It’s a wonderful gift to celebrate the Month of Mary annually each May. So too, it’s a wonderful gift to celebrate the Month of the Sacred Heart annually each June in which we honor the pierced Heart of the Savior and give thanks for his profound love for us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is Eucharistic in nature, finding its summit at Mass where we lift up our hearts to the Lord and unite our hearts with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Just as Eve was born from the side of Adam, the Church was born of the pierced side of Jesus Christ – the new Adam. At the moment the soldier pierced His side, blood and water poured forth, symbolizing Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
Saint John Chrysostom explained it this way:
Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments, the Church is born: from baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam … As God took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.
June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus primarily because the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls within that month, a feast that was given to us by our Lord himself through St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. On June 16, 1675, our Lord appeared to her in a revelation, asking her her to promote a feast that honors his Sacred Heart. He said:
I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored.
Jesus’ pierced Heart symbolizes a love that conquers sin and transcends death and his a reminder to us of his infinite love for us. His pierced Heart suffered physically and emotionally in a most excruciating way because of our sinfulness and yet he loved us until the end. In the Mass, we are nourished by Christ when we receive him in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It is not a mere symbol of Christ; it is Christ himself. Because of this, the Eucharist is the sacrament of charity and a school of love through which Jesus educates us about his meekness, humility, mercy, and illimitable love for us.
Jesus’ Sacred Heart deserves the greatest degree of love, the highest possible honor, and the most profound reverence. The Eucharist must be approached with awe since it is truly his Real Presence that we witness and receive. Unfortunately, our Lord’s Sacred Heart has been much disrespected in our churches throughout the centuries and even more so in recent times. When we fail to recognize his Presence in the Tabernacle or Monstrance, we deny him the love and honor he deserves. When we receive him half-heartedly or unworthily, we insult his supreme dignity. When we treat the Sacred Host like a snack cracker instead of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Son of God, we dishonor and further wound his Sacred Heart.
Our Lord’s call to St. Margaret for reparation is our call as well. Perhaps during the month of June, we can take extra measures to receive the Eucharist more worthily and carefully, showing him the love and respect he deserves. We could spend extra time in Adoration, meditating on his Sacred Heart. Maybe we could daily make at least one act of self-denial in loving atonement for the insults Jesus’ Sacred Heart has suffered. In this way, we can unite our hearts with our Lord’s heart and repay a small portion of the debt we owe him for redeeming us.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, CC