|Sacred Heart of Jesus|
You are a people sacred to the LORD, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own. It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the LORD loved you....
"Because I love you!" we say to our children, parents, relatives and friends as we give gifts and show kindness. We say it again as we must sometimes rebuke or forgive them. We might even say it when we discipline ourselves, choosing to exercise, eat right, quit smoking or drinking. If we're to be there for them, we have to take care of our ourselves! (Unlike the teachers of those repulsive TV ads, we don't do it "for me.")
Because I love you may be the best motive for doing anything and the only way to achieve our goals.
Today we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and we remember his naked affection for us. There is simply no other explanation for his birth in Bethlehem, his sacrificial life and death, and his Resurrection.
As fallible, emotional, moody creatures we have often had cause to doubt God's love. Many people read the Old and New Testaments with suspicion. The "Old Testament God" is vilified for the angry sentences of the Hebrew Prophets and for his apparently arbitrary punishments upon Israel and Judah. But the "New Testament Jesus" is also suspected of not loving enough. "If he loves us so much, why did this happen?" people wonder as they face disappointment and sorrow.
The Holy Spirit permits these anxious moments and then patiently brings us back. After a long recitation of trials and challenges and a harrowing story of rescue, the psalmist exults:
He set me free in the open; he rescued me because he loves me. (Psalm 18:20)
And again we hear, "...it was because the Lord loves you." Keeping our eyes fixed on him, we cannot doubt it.