Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lectionary: 172

The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.

While we were still helpless:
A hospital chaplain sees much helplessness. It's a trait of human existence often ignored and denied in the rest of the world. There is only so much we can do to alleviate human suffering and forestall death. 

More often than not we cannot even persuade ourselves to give up self-destructive habits.  How often do I see patients, trailing I-V poles, heading for the exits for a smoke? After several weeks of intense counseling and group discussion, with every good intention, many addicted patients resume their consumption of alcohol and drugs within hours of leaving the clinic. 

While we were still helpless, Christ died for the ungodly...
Periodically I have to go back and contemplate the enormity of my sins and my helplessness. It's not a pleasant exercise but, without it, I cannot be reminded of God's gracious mercyI am too inclined to say, "Well, I am not the greatest of sinners." or "Look at all the good I've done!" or, worse, "I had no choice! I couldn't help it!" 

The Sacrament of Penance helps me to step away from those excuses because they would excuse me from God's mercy. 

"...justified by his blood, we will be saved through him from the wrath."

Ancient Israelis fled to the hills of Judea when foreign armies overtook the land. They hid in the caves and shelters until the danger was past. The Sacred Heart invites us to take refuge in the cavern of his heart. There is ample space here for those who need to hide from the coming wrath. 

The enormity of my sins must bring it on me. We do not know where it will come from but we know it must come. Terrorism reminds us of the fragility of our laws, contracts and agreements. In the twinkling of an eye they can be blown away and we can discover once again our vulnerability.  

Likewise, in the twinkling of an eye one's health can collapse. I see it all the time in the hospital. In those moments when we feel the hot breath of death's imminence on our necks, it is good to contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

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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.