This Friday and Saturday, we celebrate the Memorial of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, respectively. As part of our bicentennial commemoration, I had planned to consecrate our diocese to the Sacred Heart this Friday, However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and our celebration of public Masses was suspended, I did the consecration on March 22 as we were entering into a period of isolation and solitude.
By design, the Church placed these feasts next to each other because the hearts of Jesus and his mother are intimately connected. We honor their hearts because their hearts were pierced and injured for us.
We recall the words of Simeon to our Blessed Mother when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).
Their hearts express love so powerfully that they are with us in our afflictions and worries, difficulties and challenges. We should always be encouraged and strengthened by confidently knowing that Our Lord draws us into his heart, his love — the core of his being. Our Lady, intimately immersed in this love, leads us there through her intercession.
Jesus instructed us to abide in him and assured us that he would abide in us (Jn 15:4). That is the essence of his Sacred Heart! We place ourselves in the depths of his heart, remaining there as he remains in us.
This presence we share with Christ expresses mutual love without words. It is akin to what couples experience in the latter years of a long, healthy marriage — mature, deep love that they express by their presence to one another and in which they can communicate without ever saying a word.
We know there was this profound heart-toheart bond between Jesus and Mary. There was a kind of communication — a communion, really — which was an intense experience of overcoming all division and separation, all distance and disagreement. From the Annunciation through the Assumption and for all eternity, their hearts experience this communication.
The solitude that accompanies our isolation allows us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the sufferings of Christ, in his sacrifice, flowing from the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In that spiritual realm, we can be present to God and know his presence without words.
This is a timely opportunity as we continue to address the sin of racism and work to eradicate the infection of its effects, i.e., violence and division. How essential is our immersion in those hearts as we pray for and work toward healing and rebuilding of our communities.
If we speak heart-to-heart with those we encounter, there will be no room in our hearts for division, racism, animus, doubts and fears. All of that will be replaced through the grace that comes from our expression and our longing to be in communion with the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and with one another.
Seven years ago, speaking about the Sacred Heart, Pope Francis said, “The heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy. But it is not an imaginary symbol. It is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which salvation for all humanity gushed forth.”
In this challenging time, let those words inspire us and guide us toward making our hearts one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.