The fact that we need to have this Feast day is a testament to the nature of of humanity. That the scriptures are so full of these details about the compassion of God, about the mercy of the Lord, about the Lord who is full of steadfast love, who is so committed absolutely to the covenant. Who created us and called us in love. And yet our tendency is is always to limit, to restrict. To keep God at arms length to keep God at a distance, and so that image of the God who is sitting there on the throne like some wicked king ready to pounce, ready to inflict the worst of punishment upon us, and that is still there, unfortunately, within Christianity.
You know, there’s particularly certain sects that continue to emphasise how much God loves judging people, how much God loves condemning people. And there was no difference throughout the history of the church. There’s always been these communities that have thought, yes, it’s by being holy and by putting ourselves as separate and keeping ourselves as pure as possible. That’s how we will find our place in the Kingdom of God. There’s no room for grace. There’s no need for grace in that system, because it’s all about what we bring to the equation and God becomes almost irrelevant: just this frightening judge who’s there in order to inflict punishment in order to be useful in that system; to make sure that everyone toes the line and keeps the rules.
But this solemnity is about this reminder of the mercy of God, the compassion of the Lord. The way St Margaret Mary saw him. Who was there saying: “behold the heart that has loved humanity so much,” that gift, that change that that was able then to to bring within that stirring in the very centre of France, this desire, this longing to encounter.
Who is able to be our friend! A God who is able to call us back into life. A God who doesn’t want to frighten us into heaven but a God, who is luring us and and calling us and slowly inviting us to to get rid of those things that are not of God to let go of those elements in our lives that don’t serve us any longer. That allow us to actually experience the grace and the humanity of the Lord. When I grew up there are lots of images of the Sacred Heart and almost every room in our house had an image of the Sacred Heart.
But most of them were in that English school of artwork where it was very literal and realistic kind of depiction of this almost beating heart of Jesus. Being there in in the centre of his chest and some of Jesus kind of holding out his heart to us. None of those kind of images – well, mostly they just freaked me out and I didn’t find them at all inspiring. But then when you begin to see the way that in the European schools, particularly in the French and the the Spanish schools, where it’s a depiction simply of this warm glow, kind of that comes from the the heart of Jesus and certainly Margaret Mary’s original vision and images of Jesus were of him on the cross. With this intensity of love that was pouring out of his chest and it’s in that I think that I’ve found my place, that ability just to experience the God who is available to us, the God who is just inviting us, cajoling us, calling us.
Because he wants us to experience that love. But there’s so few people that seem able to really appreciate that. Someone I saw yesterday in hospital and he was just so overwhelmed by his sin. And despite all of the assurances that I could make that, of course, you’re sorry for these things. And so of course the mercy of the Lord will extend even to you, but so many people, because they’ve grown up in that world where it’s the wrath and the judgement and the condemnation and sin and this feast barely scratches the surface. So of course we need to have it. Of course we need to to celebrate the wonder of the God who’s calling us and inviting us to the full flourishing of the human love. God has loved us so much, so we too should love one another.