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Furnace of Love
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes: “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, on this Solemnity of your Most Sacred Heart, I come before you with the desire to love you more deeply and passionately. Lord, I believe that your heart is on fire with love for me—not just for me as part of the whole of creation, but me. I trust in your love that always reaches out to me and echoes in my heart, calling me to return to you when I stray. I ask you for the grace to experience your love and return your love more faithfully.
- Just One: To someone whose livelihood was based upon his flock, the loss of even one of his sheep would be significant. Therefore, the shepherd didn’t wait and hope the lost sheep wandered back to the flock; the shepherd left the flock and searched until he found the one that was lost. In the same way, Our Lord seeks out each one of us. The Catechism points to the Sacred Heart as “the chief sign and symbol” of God’s love because “Jesus knew and loved us each and all…and gave himself up for each one of us” (CCC 478). Conversion is an ongoing process, for “Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians” (CCC 1428). Thus, Christ is seeking each of us so that we might grow in our union with him through repentance and love. When our loved ones have strayed, we know that Jesus diligently seeks them out. With gratitude and confidence, we pray in intercession for everyone who has strayed from the fold.
- Reparation: St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who is recognized as the “Apostle of Devotion to the Sacred Heart,” advised that we not only repent and make reparation for our own sins, but that we respond to a request Jesus made in a vision. He asked that we make reparation for the ingratitude, irreverence, sacrileges, coldness, disdain, and sins of others, particularly on the First Friday of each month. St. John Paul II referred to reparation as “apostolic cooperation in the salvation of the world” (On the 100th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Divine Heart of Jesus).
- Burning Hearts: The image of the Sacred Heart shows Christ’s burning love for mankind. Often holy cards of the Sacred Heart will include the phrase, “Here is the heart that loved men so much” or “Sacred Heart of Jesus, burning with love of us, inflame our hearts with love of Thee.” We heard the disciples experiencing this when they encountered the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us…” (Luke 24:32). St. John Paul II wrote, “… From the Heart of Christ, man’s heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love of God with love of neighbor” (On the 100th Anniversary). Do I encounter Christ in such a way that I feel my heart burning within me? Does my heart burn with zeal to share the love of Christ with others?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I know you love me, and when I stray, you seek me out. There is so much for which I need to offer reparation: my lack of charity in dealing with others, my complacency about venial sins, my sloth, my wastefulness. Teach me to offer the challenges and sacrifices of the day in reparation for my sins and for the lack of love for you that is so prevalent in society today. Enflame my heart so that I desire to reach out to my neighbor with your love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will offer any sacrifices I experience in reparation for all those baptized Catholics who no longer receive the sacraments.
For Further Reflection: To learn more about the Sacred Heart devotion visit: https://sacredheartapostolate.com/, and see videos about the devotion at https://sacredheartapostolate.com/2019/11/01/msgr-john-esseff-on-the-sacred-heart-enthronement./.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.