Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, VA has written a beautiful Pastoral Letter on the Heart of Christ this past October. The full version of Fountain of Life, Fire of Love, can be read in its entirety here. What follows is the excerpt that I found to be the most profoundly stirring to my own heart. How blessed we are to be held within the Heart of Christ, moved with pity and burning with love for each of us!
"One of the most striking and moving passages in the New Testament, which reveals the tender and compassionate love of God made visible in His Divine Son, comes from the Gospel of Saint Matthew: “At the sight of the crowd Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned”(Mt. 9:36 a).
The Sacred Heart of our Lord was moved with pity at the sight of the crowds that came to Him in first century Galilee. He had compassion at the sight of the burdens and wounds that the people carried. The word “troubled” in this passage from the Gospel is a translation of the original Greek word eskulmenoi, which is figurative language originating in a word that denotes skin lacerations or, more literally and graphically, refers to being skinned alive. This dramatic vocabulary does not indicate the physical condition of the people; rather it expresses the profound pain that afflicted them. Our Lord gazed with deep insight and love into each of their hearts as they came to Him. He saw their history of hurt, self-inflicted wounds, self-loathing, and relationships in family and life that caused deep pain and alienation. He saw them helpless, “abandoned,” under the burden of these wounds, and this moved His Heart. Still today our Lord Jesus gazes upon each of us. He knows our every fiber and He sees our very darkest moments and wounds. Jesus sees all and looks upon us with deep loving compassion for our lacerated souls. For we too have the same interior wounds that burdened those people two thousand years ago.
Our Lord’s compassion of Heart for us is not just a sentiment, but an active loving response that heals. As often as Jesus gazes on the people with pity, He heals them (cf. Mt. 14:2). Healing is of the essence of redemption and salvation. Our Lord does not save us in an external way like someone would grab another person and boost them up to a higher place. He transforms interiorly. As part of this transformation, Jesus heals our wounds of failed and disordered loves with His own true intimate steadfast love. As we gaze upon His Sacred Heart, Jesus invites us to come to Him with our heavy burdens and wounds to receive rest and healing. In His wounded Heart, we experience ourselves as loved and our burdens shared. We see its wound and crown of thorns and we know that He has taken up and suffered our pain. We look upon the flames that pour from the top of His Heart with the Cross in their midst, and we recognize that He has conquered our pain and can truly heal us...
...Part of the essence of the healing devotion to the Sacred Heart is believing in and accepting an intimate and amazing love that we could never earn or deserve, and living in the light and joy of that love. In this confidence we have the holy audacity to look at ourselves unflinchingly and bring all of our wounds and failures to the Sacred Heart of Jesus."
Much thanks to Fr. Jim Kubicki, SJ, for sharing this achingly loving document with me!