The Heart of Love: A Homily

Blood poured from the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That blood was shed not to validate my truth or your truth; for these versions of truth participate in a false truth, which cries out for an answer to Pilate’s maddening question: What is truth? It’s a maddening question because—as Pilate sees it, as we too often see it—there is no answer. For we think that truth is like leaves blowing in the wind; fragments which you can catch if you work hard enough while many more vexingly fly quickly away. What is truth? He stands before Pilate. For truth is not a belief of what I am cocksure is true. Truth is the person. And the blood that pours from the Most Sacred Heart of Truth Himself asserts that only one Truth is real: that His blood is shed to raise us from the death-blows we continually inflict upon our own selves and thereby upon His holy body.

Blood poured from the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That blood flowed not to confirm my narrative or yours, but to proclaim that there is only one narrative. And we don’t need to get behind it. We need to be within it, and it within us. Which means we need to give up the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and then insist that others listen. These stories, because they are mine and come from me, are rooted in pride: and so they are not, and cannot be aligned, with the Passion of the Christ. That story is the only real story. It is the story of the Son of Man determining to take all our brokenness, all our disordered passions, everything that labels, and misidentifies, and drives a wedge between you and me, between us and them—and, as a result, between God and humans—that story of Our Lord healing us by urging us to trust

  • that His self-sacrifice is the only way love works;
  • that His asceticism gives strength to our self-denial;
  • that He sits at our table to speak mercy tenderly into our ears;
  • that He is willing to embrace, and then die for, those who hated Him.

That story, His story, His narrative to put away the sword and then heal the man who persecuted Him when He persecuted Christ’s body;

  • That story of dying to give life, of long-suffering which revitalizes, of being wounded to heal, of becoming my worst self and your worst self, to forgive me and you,
  • That, and that alone, must be our story.

Blood poured from the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That blood poured forth to give birth to something new: a society never before imagined because our societies are always built from fear and are maintained only by power or threats. This new society eschews every tribalism, and every attempt to re-create a new world made after our image and according to our likeness. Instead, this new society, which poured from the pierced Heart of Our Lord, is the society of all nations, all races, all languages, all people whom God seeks in His justice; which is

  • the unfairness of His mercy given to those who turn to Him
  • the determination of paying the cost in His blood to return His own
  • the diligence of doing whatever it takes to win us back, not by intimidation or self-serving pity, but by honoring our free will while loving us into His heart.

Gushing out of Our Lord’s Most Sacred Heart was the water and blood which were the full measure and public demonstration of His love for us. For at one and the same time, the price of our salvation coupled with the strength of His sacraments issued from the hidden and unending fountain of His compassion. This saving bath from which the new society was born; this holy drink which satisfies those who gather together to taste God’s truth and justice—this is poured over us, and into our lips, to give us the ability to love with the same heart which first loved us.

To love all as Christ first loved us is

  • to castigate none;
  • to push away none;
  • to demonize none;
  • to ridicule none;
  • and never to condition your love on others accepting you.

For that is not the way of Christ. And so it ought not be our path.

To love with the heart of Christ is to see that we are the shepherd. When Christ, the Good Shepherd, leaves the ninety-nine, He is leaving all that is secure, all that is peaceful, all that is as it should be, in order to enter the scariest places and do battle with the meanest forces just to rescue us. And in doing this, He thinks nothing—not one thing—about Himself, His desires, His needs. Instead, He willingly leaves the ninety-nine, which are the angelic choir who will not be full-throatedly rejoicing until all of humankind joins them in this new society, this heavenly kingdom.

To love with the heart of Christ is to see that we are the woman. She frantically searches not because she is obsessed with shiny, glittering gold. Rather, she wishes to return into her purse everyone stamped with the image of Christ the King; everyone made according to His likeness; everyone redeemed at the price of His life. So consider this: the one lost coin does not realize that it is lost, but the Holy Spirit, as this woman, will search every crevice so that the purse is filled in this new society where every soul is valuable and priceless.

And to love with the heart of Christ is to see not only that the Father stands at the window, eagerly awaiting our return. More importantly—and too often missed—is this: that when the Son leaves the Father, this is also the Father making Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us:

  • to live in our disordered world;
  • to experience our self-degradation;
  • to endure our pitilessness;
  • and to sit in our filth.

The Son does this so that He might return us, in His own flesh, to His Father, so that “we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Do you see what really pours from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus? Not the demand to be loved. Yet also not blaming or shaming. And no vitriol or hate-filled words. Certainly, no name calling or labeling 0r boxing-up others.

What also does not come from Christ’s heart is saccharin, or the idea that nothing needs to be done, and the ostrich-hope that the bad will go away.

What pours forth from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is Jesus Himself. The patience, the mercy, the sweat, the blood. All that is He. All that He has. All for the good of me. For the benefit of you. For the well-being of all.

Thy Heart, O most dear Jesus, is the good treasure, the pearl of great price, which we find by digging in the field of thy body. Who would cast aside this pearl? I will rather give all my pearls, I will exchange for it all my thoughts and everything I hold dear in my story—so that I may purchase this one pearl for myself, and expend every effort and turn my every thought to the Heart of the Jesus who, without fail, supports me. O most sweet Jesus, so that my heart may align with thy good Heart; so that I may find my heart secured within thine—I implore thee to accept my prayers and ever more draw me into thy holy and sacred heart. For with thee is the fountain of life: and in thy light shall we see light.

St Bonaventure (paraphrased)