Sunday, July 3, 2011

3 Pentecost

July 3, 2011

Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30

+ Sometimes, I honestly feel sorry for you. You truly do have to suffer sometimes under my strange eccentricities, especially my strange appreciation of strange catholic beliefs and practices.

This past Wednesday, at Mass, we commemorated Sts Peter and Paul, but I also threw in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Feast of the Sacred Heart fell this past Friday. And because I have always held a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart, I couldn’t let the day go by without some kind of commemoration.

The fact is, we Episcopalians do not officially observe the feast of the Sacred Heart. But that, of course, has never prevented me from doing anything and this is one of those feasts that I just can’t let by without making some reference to it.

And although we seem to see this particular devotion to the Sacred Heart as only a Roman Catholic devotion, I beg to differ. I learned my devotion to the Sacred Heart not from any Roman Catholic, or even from an Episcopalian. I learned devotion to the Sacred Heart from my very Lutheran grandmother.

My Grandma Minnie had a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart. I don’t know if she ever called it the “Sacred Heart,” but her favorite representation of Jesus was always ones in which he was revealing his heart. In fact, the two representations I remember most clearly were a very cheap picture in a black plastic frame and a large statue of the Sacred Heart that she keep in the corner of her living room. She received that statue from a Hispanic Roman Catholic friend of her’s and it was one of her most prized possessions.

The other day, as my mother and I were cleaning the basement of my mother’s house, getting ready for her move, I found that statue in a large cardboard box. No, I will not set it up here in the church, but I am going to put it in a place of honor in the rectory.

For my grandmother, this devotion wasn’t some strange Catholic devotion. For her, it truly represented the love Jesus had for us and, although she wasn’t a big preacher, she made it clear that Jesus did truly love each of us.

I have to agree with her.

Why the Sacred Heart is important to me is not because it is some quaint catholic devotion. It is important to me because it is such a wonderful representation of that love Jesus has for each of us and all of us. That Sacred Heart is a beautiful symbol that Jesus loves fully and completely and wholly. Jesus loves in a way we strive to love, but cannot love. Our love has limits. Our love fails at times. But not Jesus’. His love is always without limits.

And that love knows no bounds. Jesus loves everyone fully and completely, no matter who or what they are. I say it all the time and I will always say it—Jesus love for us knows no bounds. He loves us fully and completely. And we see this most clearly in that devotion to the Sacred Heart.

But it’s not enough that we are simply the recipients of this love. The fact is: we are followers of Jesus. As followers of Jesus we are essentially called to imitate Jesus. And that means that our hearts should be like his Heart. Our hearts should be filled to the brim with a burning love. For everyone.

Everyone—no matter who they are—can be found within that Heart. No one is excluded from that place of burning love which is never extinguished.

When we see devotion to Christ’s loving heart in this way, we see that it IS very timely for our church at this point. We see that this reminder to love as Jesus loved is at the core of the Gospel and at the core of what it means to follow Jesus.

When we see the Sacred Heart we should see it as a mirror in which our own hearts are reflected. His heart is the ideal. It is the goal in our own love. We too should love just as like the Sacred Heart of Jesus loves.

This love is not an easy love. It truly is the yoke that Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel. When he says to us:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke I easy, and my burden light.”

We truly find that he is setting the standard. Learn from him. He is gentle and humble in heart. In this love that he feels for each of us and in the love that we, in turn give to others, we will find rest for our souls.

So find refuge in this love. Let his love be the guide for your love. Let your heart be a reflection of that Sacred Heart of Jesus, which contains within it the vastness of Christ’s love for each of us.

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