The Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

There is a legend in the Catholic Church that the soldier who pierced the side of Christ(John 19:34), whom we know as Saint Longinus, experienced a sudden conversion when the blood of Jesus ran down the shaft of the spear onto the hands of Saint Longinus, who then touched his eyes with his hands. The truth of our Lord, that which was previously hidden from Longinus the soldier, became immediately clear.

From darkness to light, from duty to choice, from hatred to love, in an instant the hardened heart of the soldier became one with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Saint Longinus’ conversion story provides a glimpse into our devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion to help us align our hearts (symbolically to mean ourlove) with His, to ponder the depth of His love for us, including His wounds, and to see the manifestations of His love in our lives, in His Church and in the world. This contemplation of the Most Sacred Heart compelled Saint Longinus to commit his life to Christ’s love, as it has inspired countless others to do the same, includingBlessed Basil Moreauwho in founding the Congregation of Holy Cross, named the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as patron of his community of priests, a patronage that has guided and protected Holy Cross for 175 years.

Our reflection on the love of Christ is not complete if our focus is exclusively as “recipients”of the great gift of this love for us. Certainly, we are the beneficiaries of the profound and infinite love of Jesus which we see, as did Longinus, in gazing upon the cross. But to engage more deeply in this love, we must understand not just the gift, but the Giver, and to know the Giver, we must touch His Most Sacred Heart.

Our commemoration of and devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of the fullness of His love for us and calls us into a deeper Communion. As we come to know the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we come to know His virtues and His teachings, His inner life and His infinite love. We will find our lives transformed as did Saint Longinus, so with our eyes we will see His truth, with our hands we will hold His body and blood and with our hearts we will love as the Master has shown us love.

*The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a moveable Feast, which means that it depends on the date of Easter Sunday. It is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday, which falls on the 50th day of Easter.

Written byRev. David T. Tyson, C.S.C., former Provincial Superior(tenure ending June 22, 2012), for The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,June 15, 2012.

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