The origins of today’s great celebration go back at least as far as 1670, when the devotion was celebrated by St. John Eudes in Rennes, France. The devotion spread even further after the visions received by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690). From this time, France regularly maintained the celebration of the Sacred Heart, until Pope Pius IX extended the celebration to the Universal Church in 1856, making today’s celebration the 160th anniversary of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents the entire mystery of Christ. The focus of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to elicit gratitude for the great sacrifice made by Christ for the salvation of the world. At the same time, it acknowledges the ingratitude of humanity for the same. Recalling and celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus renews our reverence for Christ, strengthens our own dedication to him, and reminds us of our ongoing need for conversion, growth in holiness, and greater commitment to loving service of our neighbors.
We are called today (and everyday) to spend time before Jesus, and with Jesus, that we might raise our awareness of the depths of his love for us, and our need for and total dependence upon him. Today’s feast is a great time to recall the many passages of Sacred Scripture that speak to us of God’s love, and how Jesus is the fullness and manifestation of this love. For example:
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)
When we spend time with Jesus, he gives us insights into the depths of his love and the ongoing fruits of his ministry in our lives:
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the evidence of the warmth and nearness of God to his people.
The warmth of the Sacred Heart melts the hardness of human hearts.
Jesus is the Master Teacher because he is the Word made flesh.
Jesus teaches with authority because he is the Truth.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he is the Way.
In Jesus we find our joy because he is the Life.
In Jesus we find our self, because he is the Love of God.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pray for us. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.