Friday June 7, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Sacred Heart

Reading I (Deuteronomy 7:6-11) Reading II (1 John 4:7-16)

Gospel (St. Matthew 11:25-30)

In the Gospel reading, Our Lord describes His own Self as being meek and humble of heart. That is the Sacred Heart of Jesus: a heart that is meek, which means it is not angry; it is one that is lowly; it is one that is humble; it is a heart that is love. All that the heart of Jesus is capable of doing is loving. There is nothing else. There is no admixture of any kind in the heart of Our Lord; it is all love. What a great privilege and joy for us to know that, to know that He has invited each one of us to Himself. "Come to Me," He said. He wants us to be there in His Sacred Heart. So much does He want us to be in His Sacred Heart that the very last thing He did was to allow His Sacred Heart to be torn wide open so that each one of us could enter through that wound into the depth of His heart, into the very love of His heart.

But He does not simply want us to be able to be drawn to His heart; in order to do so, we must become like Him. That is why Saint John could say, "Love consists of this: not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us and has sent His Son as the expiation for our sins." The love comes from God and God Himself has sent that love into this world in the very Person of His Son.

But if we want, as we do in our humanness, to take something that describes the fullness of our person at the very core and essence of who we are, we talk about our heart. "This is the deepest thing of my heart. Itís the desire of my heart. Itís the love of my heart." All these different things we talk about regarding the heart, but of course it means the fullness of the person, everything that we are. The same is true of Jesus. While the Father does not have a heart per se; nonetheless, God is love and what He has done is to take all the love that He is and He has made it into human form. In the very depths of that human form, which is His Son made man, He has put the Sacred Heart and He has shown us His love - a love which is willing to die for us, a love which is willing to give absolutely everything for us, a love for us which is not something that we earned or deserved.

As Moses said to the people, "It is not because you were the largest of nations, but rather you are the smallest; it is because God loved you." Now that does not mean we were the best, the brightest, the most impressive, the most lovable of all creatures - just the opposite. It is simply because He loves us. It does not need to make sense, and it never will make sense because love is not something that you reason out. You fall in love with somebody in your heart, not in your head; it is the same with God. He loves us, pure and simple. Do not try to figure out why He loves you because you will never figure out why - He simply does. [It is] the same reason you love your children. Even when they are teenagers, you continue to love them and it does not make any sense why. If you try to reason it out and say, "What reason has this kid given me to love him?" He hasnít; you love him because he is your child. How much more, then, does God love us, whom He created in His own image and likeness and whom He died for on the Cross and invites each one of us into His Sacred Heart.

The love of God is without question. The only thing that is in question is our response. Jesus calls us to be like Him. "Learn from Me," He says, "for I am meek and humble of heart." "Become like Me" is what He is saying to each one of us. "Make your hearts just like my heart." But that means you have to become like a little child because that is what He told us: "The heavenly Father revealed to the merest of children what He has hidden from the learned and the clever." So forget all the mind games, put it all aside; get into the heart. Allow the heart to be conformed to the heart of Jesus. Allow yourself to be loved, and love in return. Come to Him all you who are heavy burdened and He will give you rest. Learn from Him for He is meek and humble of heart.

* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.