OCHOA: God’s all-embracing love is without borders
July 14, 2020
Every year on the 19th day after Pentecost, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most widely practiced and well-known Catholic devotions. Masses are said, and sermons are preached on the theme of the all-embracing love of Jesus for humankind.
“It is a love that surpasses all knowledge,” states Pope Francis in his homily for the feast. “The love of God is so great; a poet describes it as a bottomless sea without shores.”
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has a long history that can be traced back to the 12th century when St. Bernard of Clairvaux described the Heart of Jesus as the source of our love for God and others.
St. Francis of Assisi had a deep devotion to the Heart of Jesus and his related writings inspired the French nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. He reported seeing several visions of an image of Jesus with his heart engulfed in flames. At the same time, she heard a message, “My divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race and of you, in particular, that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning charity any longer. They must burst out through you and reveal my Heart to the world, so as to enrich mankind with my treasures.”
These mystical experiences led to her development and promotion of the First Friday devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Twelve Promises and the Holy Hour of Reparation, which continue to this day.
Through the work of many missionaries, the Sacred Heart devotion has spread around the world. Statues or pictures of Jesus with His heart displayed can be found in churches, homes, cemeteries and walkways throughout the continents. Large statues of the Sacred Heart can even be found on streets in India. All these remind us of the universality of Jesus’ love.
This year, the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart took place in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. The great love of Jesus is both a comfort and a challenge as we face the loss of life and lifestyle due to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Recalling the sacrificial love of Jesus for us and His promise of eternal life brings us strength, enabling us to handle our fears and offer consolation to others. We are challenged to share that love with others. Pope Francis further explains, “God did not reveal His love through power but by loving His people, teaching them to walk, taking them in His arms, caring for them… Our works of mercy are the continuity of this love.”
As God’s love does not stop at borders, our concern and care must reach to all places. Even as the suffering brought by the virus is affecting all countries, so our prayers and generosity must reach out around the world.
The Missionary Cooperative Plan, coordinated by the Mission Office, is one of the ways our Church has always offered worldwide assistance through prayers and financial support to the missions. Stay aware of your parish plans and check in with online updates from the Archdiocesan Mission Office to learn of the schedule for your parish missionary visit as part of this program.
Through you, the love of Jesus will continue to be spread to all peoples, in all places, for all times. Your goodness will reflect the all-embracing Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Hilda Ochoa is the director of the Office of Missions.