Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lectionary: 172

Blackberry blossoms
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.

I met a Veteran recently who joined the Church as a teenager. His mother was Protestant; his step-father, a non-practicing Catholic; and they lived in a very Catholic, Louisiana town. He entered the church because all his friends were catholic; and he wanted to run with them. Sadly, when he entered the military and moved onto other places, he did not maintain his membership in the Church.

In fact, despite whatever catechesis he had, and the admonitions of his catechists, he had never discovered the heart of Jesus. He was not attached directly to the vine and the circumstances of life tore him out of the tangle of its branches. I have heard the same story of former priests; they loved the routines of seminary and rectory life; they enjoyed the camaraderie of priests; but they never discovered the heart of Jesus. As their cliques of schoolmates scattered and disbanded, they drifted away. Their lives were essentially heartless.

One of our friars was known for his declaration, “It’s fun to be Catholic.” I wonder how many people would agree with him today. Given the controversies and scandals and “changes,” many Catholics feel challenged. Sometimes the caricatures of popes and bishops in political cartoons are downright offensive. 

And yet they keep coming. Some Catholics can’t even say why they’re still here; perhaps they’re not familiar with, or uncomfortable with the language of love. (Robert Hannah described that sad condition in his book, Habits of the Heart. He pointed to men who, when asked why they stay married, speak of their wives’ cooking ability or maternal instincts. They have forgotten how to say, “Because I love her.”)

Catholic must be held to the bosom of the Church by the love of God if they are to remain in the Church. They might say they love the Mass or the Eucharist. They might even say, “It’s fun to be Catholic.” but, if they survive the challenges of our time, it’s because their affection belongs to Jesus. They will say with great assurance:

          I love you, LORD, my strength,
          LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,
          My God, my rock of refuge,
          my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!
          Praised be the LORD, I exclaim!
          I have been delivered from my enemies.  (Psalm 18)

1 comment:

  1. I have said before, if you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, you won't find it working for the Church. It can't be heartbreaking working for the Church. I've had my heart broken. People expect the Church too be perfect, but it is made of human beings. And God takes us simple humans and transforms us into His Body.


I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.