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The Sacred Heart of Jesus

In 13 Today's Church on 2015/06/13 at 12:00 AM

 

  • The Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was started at the behest of Jesus in an apparition to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. We have an image of this apparition in the second window on the right side of the church.
  • Noting that His Sacred Heart is the source of His love, mercy, and compassion for all of mankind, Jesus requested this feast so that the Church could make reparation for mankind’s ingratitude for the sacrifice that He made for us on Calvary.
  • In addition to being the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, Friday also marked the end of the Year of the Priest. Our Holy Father celebrated the occasion with a special Mass in St. Peter’s Square that had 15,000 priests from around the world in attendance.
  • But what was most extraordinary about that particular Mass was the message that our Holy Father delivered in his homily.
  • In his homily Pope Benedict lamented that, during what should have been a year of joy for the priesthood, the “sins of priests came to light — particularly the abuse of the little ones.”
  • Thus, His Holiness begged forgiveness from God and from the victims of clerical abuse, promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again.
  • Forgiveness is the theme that emerges from today’s readings. Our readings today provide us with two remarkable examples of biblical figures who recognized sin in their lives and expressed a desire for forgiveness.
  • In the first reading we hear about King David, who was both a murderer and an adulterer, as the prophet Nathan points out to him.
  • The prophet Nathan confronts David with his sin, noting as well all the many favors God has granted David. To his credit David admits that he has sinned against the Lord, and Nathan tells him that the Lord has forgiven his sin.
  • As for the woman who washes and anoints the feet of Jesus in the Gospel, we aren’t told exactly what her sin was, but it must have been something pretty serious because she obviously enjoyed a rather notorious reputation.
  • While we don’t read about her actual apology, Jesus Himself tells us how she is showing her repentance for her sins by the love she shows Him in washing and anointing His feet.
  • In both cases mercy and forgiveness are granted to the sinner, and they are reconciled to God.
  • Because of our fallen human nature, all of us from time to time commit sin. All of us do things that we later regret. And it can be a very humbling thing to seek forgiveness fromthose we have harmed.
  • Yet seeking forgiveness is something we must all do if we hope to go to Heaven. Of courseit is not enough just to ask for forgiveness haphazardly; we must recognize our sins, be trulysorry for our sins, and go to confession.
  • But in addition to recognizing our own sins and asking for forgiveness when necessary, ourChristian vocation demands that we also be willing to forgive the sins of others.
  • And more often than not, extending forgiveness to others is a much more difficult task thanasking for forgiveness.
  • Indeed, the most distressing sins I ever deal with in the confessional are not sins of David:murder or adultery. To the contrary, the most distressing and difficult sins to deal with are hard-heartedness and a refusal to forgive.
  • Occasionally as a priest I am confronted with a person who simply cannot get past a hurt inflicted by another person – oftentimes a sibling or other relative – and they flatly refuse to forgive them.
  • This lack of forgiveness is so sad because Jesus tells us in the 6th chapter of Matthew that if we do not forgive others, neither will our Heavenly Father forgive us (cf. Mt. 6:15).
  • This refusal to forgive is sad not simply because it is a very real obstacle to our salvation, but also because it’s a failure to imitate Christ, in whose image we have been created and whose name we bear, in the most essential way: by being merciful.
  • Our readings today show us that our Lord is willing to forgive even the most terrible of sins if we are sorry for them. His mercy knows no bounds! So as Christians, it is incumbent upon us to learn to be the same way with others.
  • So how do we learn to forgive others the pain they’ve inflicted upon us? How do we learn to be merciful as Jesus is merciful? There are two virtues that we must cultivate within ourselves if we want to be forgiving and merciful as our Lord is forgiving and merciful: humility and magnanimity.
  • It is humility that enables us to see our own sins and our own need for forgiveness, thus disposing us to be kinder and gentler with others. Humility reminds us of our utter dependence on God’s grace, which inspires us to be more Christ-like with others.
  • And it is the virtue of magnanimity that enables us to overlook graciously the sins of others so that we can treat them as Jesus treats us – even when they hurt us terribly.
  • Aristotle referred to magnanimity as “the crowning virtue.” The word magnanimity actually means to be of a “great soul.”
  • Magnanimity is the virtue that raises us above pettiness, meanness, and the desire for revenge, and makes us delight in acts of benevolence, even if it requires personal sacrifice. It is a “noble generosity.”
  • The Pharisee in today’s Gospel has the opportunity to be magnanimous to the sinful woman who crashed his dinner party with Jesus.
  • But instead of graciously inviting her into his home and thanking her for the kindness she showed to his guest, the Pharisee judges her. So while the Pharisee is a man of importance in the community, there is no greatness in his soul, and there is no forgiveness in his heart.
  • Yet, if we wish to follow Christ with integrity, we cannot allow ourselves to be like this Pharisee. Despite whatever pain we might suffer at the hands of others, we must be willing to forgive and to do so simply because Christ forgave us first.
  • My dear brothers and sisters, is there anyone in your life who needs your forgiveness? Are you refusing to extend mercy to someone who has hurt you?
  • If so, then ask our Lord for the virtues of humility and magnanimity in prayer. Beg His Most Sacred Heart for these gifts and for the ability to forgive.
  • In addition to asking for these virtues, try practicing them in your daily life, taking our Lord Himself as your example in how to deal with others.
  • We have all hurt Jesus with our sinfulness. Yet He holds no grudges. He simply holds out His heart to us and invites us to make our hearts like His. Let us all do so by learning to forgive.

 

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