For today’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we get to relive the final indignity of the Passion (Jn 19:31-37): Jesus’ being run through with a sword.
But when [the soldiers] came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,Jn 19:33-34
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
Even after death, Jesus gives us life: With His Blood, signifying the Eucharist for spiritual sustenance; with water, signifying Baptism with which we become children of God with the promise of Heaven.
This same heart, God’s heart, was entirely given to the Chosen People of the Old Testament, even when they sinned grievously, as we hear in the first reading (Hos 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9):
My heart is overwhelmed,Hos 11:8c
my pity is stirred.
This same heart desires to transform our hearts — all hearts — as we hear in the second reading (Eph 3:8-12, 14-19), so that
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faithEph 3:17a
One can’t help to think of these words from one of the prophets:
And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them. From their bodies I will remove the hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh, so that they walk according to my statutes, taking care to keep my ordinances. Thus they will be my people, and I will be their God.Ez 11:19-20
If Christ dwells in our hearts we will adhere to the Lord’s will and truly be His people, His children in faith. And how do we grow in faith? St. Paul has the answer:
But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what was heard from us? Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.Rom 10:16-17
Read the Bible! How can we say we know Jesus when we don’t know what He said? Jesus is the Word and all of Scripture is God-breathed, the Word of God.
Last here, but first in my mind as I heard the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today, is Mary the mother of Jesus and the words of Simeon to her at Jesus’ presentation 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
We are told by mystics that, interiorly, Mary felt every bit of Jesus’ Passion. Maybe we’ll learn about this in the next life. But one thing I’m absolutely convinced of is that she felt that Roman lance just as Simeon predicted — she felt the pain that Jesus mercifully no longer could. The first person to “fill up what is lacking* in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24).
No recorded words of Mary’s are provided by the evangelists at the Cross. I believe this is not because they were not inspired to do so, but because there were no words spoken. What could she say at this point? Their conversation at this juncture was simply Heart to Heart. Just as Mary’s beating heart sustained Jesus in the womb, her heart now again must sustain the world until her Son’s Resurrection.
I mentioned in a recent post how a conversation I had with a friend about “desert experiences” inspired me to look up references to “desert” and “wilderness” in the Bible. Last time I focused on a psalm. This time I’d like to take up, briefly, the first mention of wilderness in the New Testament (for these discussions I will be using the RSV for the initial quote and the NAB for the rest):
For this is he [John the Baptist] who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”Mt 3:3
It seems to me that the message here is that when we find ourselves in our own wilderness or desert, this time becomes a blessed opportunity to pay attention to the voice crying out to us. Consider that quite possibly it is this trial in which the Lord can finally get our attention. What is He asking of us? Is this a clarion call to make our own paths straight which have veered off the narrow path that leads to eternal life (cf. Mt 7:14)? Is this a preparation for us to not only get on the straight and narrow but also invite others to join us through our example?
For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.Heb 2:10
Suffering is part and parcel of this valley of tears. “The servant is no better than his master” (Jn 15:20). So why not take advantage of this time of darkness by making it a blessing rather than perceiving it as a curse.
I am looking forward to ethical (non-abortion tainted) vaccines being made available. Following is a helpful article on the subject and below that some information from the National Catholic Bioethics Center that is of great value in keeping up with this matter.
Article: Are Abortion-Free COVID-19 Vaccines on the Way?
We at the NCBC tend to trust information put out by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. They have an updated resource on their website (link) that includes a chart (scroll down) indicating which vaccines are being ethically developed and produced (not using any abortion-derived cell lines), those that are not ethically produced (use abortion-derived cell lines), and those for which there are questions. If a vaccine listed has all green squares in all its boxes (see the chart) it is morally fine. If it has red triangles in the “Design & Development” and “Production” boxes (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and AstraZeneca), then it is heavily dependent upon the abortion derived cell lines. If it has a red triangle in the “Confirmatory Lab Test” box only (Moderna and Pfizer) then it is less dependent on the aborted fetal cells.
Right now, there are vaccines being developed here in the US that do not have any connection with abortion derived cell lines, but they are still in preclinical trials (see the Charlotte Lozier chart, linked above) and will likely not be available anytime soon. There is, however, a company called Ocugen that is looking to bring the COVAXIN vaccine from India here to the US. According to Charlotte Lozier, this vaccine has no connection with abortion derived cell lines. See this link: https://ocugen.com/vaccine/overview/ . Hopefully Ocugen will be able to make this vaccine available in the relatively near future.