Feast of the Sacred Heart

John 19: 31-37
Hos 11:1,3-4,8-9/Eph 3:8-12,14-19 / Isa 12:2-6

“Not one of His bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
(John 19:36-37)

O most Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Whose Blood was shed for mankind’s sin,
From the evil one redeem us,
Wash away our guilt, make us clean.

As it was Preparation Day, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath, the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath. They asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of His bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37)

Reflection

Our Church today celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This devotion is based on the account of St. John’s witnessing of the piercing of the side of Jesus on Calvary as related in his Gospel. God chose John, “the beloved apostle” to be His special witness on this eve of the Passover, and with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was able to see the fulfillment of the prophecies made about the Lamb of God, Whose blood (and water) was shed to wash away mankind’s sin.

On that fateful day, this sole witness must have realized that these events were planned by God all along, even the final act of cruelty by that Roman soldier in making sure that Jesus was dead, “so that scripture would be fulfilled.” When he wrote his account about the final hours of Jesus on the cross, St. John recalled the prophecies made about the Messiah, such as those written by King David in one of his psalms: “. . . not one of His bones will be broken” (Psa 34:20), which was also the instruction of Yahweh God to Moses (at the first Passover in Egypt) in preparing their sacrificial lamb: “You shall not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46). The prophet Zechariah also predicted: “They will look on the one they have pierced” (Zech.12:10). He must also be familiar with the writings of Isaiah: “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting… Therefore have I set my face like flint” (Isa.50:5-6), and especially in chapter 53: “He was despised and rejected . . . a man of suffering, and familiar with pain… he took up our pain and bore our suffering… he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isa 53:3-7).

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heard of Jesus, let us not forget that it was His suffering and death that freed us from our bondage to sin. Four days from today, we will also celebrate our country’s freedom from the yoke of colonization. Let us praise God then for our total liberation, and if ever we undergo our own small crucifixions, let us thank Him still, trusting Him that “all things will work out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom.8:28) Indeed, God has a purpose for everything.

Lord God, please forgive us for all the sins that we had committed, which surely pierced the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we contemplate His passion and death on the cross that freed us from all iniquities and the power of the evil one, strengthen our resolve to make our hearts pure and humble, pleasing to You, and worthy of His love. Amen.

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