Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I have been moved by certain aspects of the readings today. My thoughts are still a bit muddled, maybe because my heart was moved and my head takes a while to catch up. So here are the things that struck me. Make of it what you will.

The response for the Invitatory Psalm was:

“The heart of Jesus was wounded for love of us: come let us adore him”

This made me think of the verse from the Prologue of John:

“He was in the World that had come into being through him and the world did not recognise him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.” John 1: 10-11.

The Wounded heart of Jesus, loving, creating and rejected. So many of the readings today focus on Christ’s love and our response of love for him.

The “Hymn’ we read was a poem from Sir Philip Sidney the first line of which is:

“My true love hath my heart and I have his”

The reading for mass includes one from Hosea. Here is the first part of it:

“Listen to the word of the Lord:
When Israel was a child I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
I myself taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in my arms;
yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them.
I led them with reins of kindness,
with leading-strings of love.
I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek;
stooping down to him I gave him his food.
Ephraim, how could I part with you?
Israel, how could I give you up?” From Hosea 11.

These are tender, intimate images of a love so beautiful and so close that it moves the universe from the greatest galaxies to the impossibly small atoms. Yet it is a love rejected and wounded by its beloved, us.

The reading from the Saints is from St Bonadventure . Here are extracts, (from the English version in our office books):

“You who have been redeemed, consider who it is who hangs on the cross for you, whose death gives life to the dead, whose passing in mourned by heaven and earth while even the hard stones are split. O consider how great he is; consider what he is…’They shall look on him whom they pierced’

“[The] blood which flowed from its source in the secret recesses of his heart, gave the sacraments of the Church power to confirm grace, and for those who already live in Christ was a draught of living water welling up to eternal life…

“O soul devoted to God, whoever you may be, run to this source of life with earger longing. And with the power of your inmost heart cry out to him: ‘O indescribable beauty of God most high! O pure radiance of everlasting light! O life that gives life!”

Returning to Sir Philip Sydney:

“His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and sense guides;
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his, because in me it bides. My true love hath my heart and I have his.”

My heart, that I offer to God is twisted and corrupted by sin. I see it as a shrivelled and grey thing. The heart I receive from my love is one overflowing with love but pierced and wounded by his beloved. How can He want mine? How am I to accept his, I who have taken my part in the wounding?

Reading one of my favourite Peter Kreeft articles on love I re-discovered these two quotes:

“Agape is totally defenseless against an objection like Freud’s: “But not all men are worthy of love.” No, they are not. Love goes beyond worth, beyond justice, beyond reason. Reasons are always given from above downward, and there is nothing above love, for God is love. When he was about six, my son asked me, “Daddy, why do you love me?” I began to give the wrong answers, the answers I thought he was looking for: “You’re a great kid. You’re good and smart and strong.” Then, seeing his disappointment, I decided to be honest: “Aw, I just love you because you’re mine.”

“You put yourself in your own hands and hand it over to another. And when you do this unthinkable thing, another unthinkable thing happens: you find yourself in losing yourself. You begin to be when you give yourself away. You find that a new and more real self has somehow been given to you. When you are a donor you mysteriously find yourself a recipient-of the very gift you gave away.”

Christ offers me his heart, rejected and wounded by his own. What I take and carry is his love and his wounds and his love. What he accepts is my heart, that which he made but is broken and twisted. He takes it to heal it and to make it into its true self.