By: Allison Ramirez
There is a lot to celebrate this month! This weekend, we celebrate both Father’s Day and the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. Today, though, I’d like to talk about the liturgical focus for this month of June, which is on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The church’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has its roots in the 1670’s when Jesus appeared on several different occasions to St. Margaret May Alacoque, who was a nun in France at that time. The main message of his visits to St. Margaret, was how he desired to be honored through the symbol of his heart, and he asked that Christians would desire to make amends for wrongdoings they had committed and to frequently receive the sacrament of communion. In 1856, the devotion officially became part of the church calendar.
Pope Pius XVI had this to say regarding Christ’s sacred heart:
“His Heart, more than all the other members of His body, is the natural sign and symbol of His boundless love for the human race. There is in the Sacred Heart…the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return.”
During this month of June, we call to mind the heart of Christ, who loved us to the end and beyond that into all eternity. 1 John 4 further reminds us “We love because he first loved us.” As “God is love” (also 1 John 4), we look to his earthly example, in Jesus, for what it means to truly love. And because God is love, we cannot love truly or authentically outside of God. God is the definition of what love is and anything otherwise is counterfeit.
Our world has many definitions for love, and this month especially, it is important to remind ourselves what true love looks like and how it is lived out. Article 2669 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins.”
It is also fitting, on this Father’s Day, to read article 219 that says, “God’s love for Israel (and by extension, all people) is compared to a father’s love for his son…his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” God loves us that much so as to hold nothing back for our redemption, even giving us his one and only son. Just something to meditate on today as we honor earthly fathers and how their love for their children is meant to mirror the love of our one, perfect Father in heaven, and the sacred heart of his son.