Today is Friday the 11 June, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Dunedin Consort sings Mache dich, mein Herze, rein from Bach’s St Matthew Passion: Mache dich, mein Herze, rein. ‘Make my heart pure.’
Today’s reading is from the Prophet Hosea.
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.
Imagine you are looking at a mother or a father with a very young child. Perhaps you can see a parent and child in front of you right now. If not, try and imagine it for a moment.
That is how Hosea paints the picture of the relationship between God and his people, here called “Israel” or “Ephraim”. God notices, even complains about their unfaithfulness, but that complaint is held in balance by his memories of loving Ephraim as a child. Some people carry a photograph around with them to remind them of someone they love, someone who loves them. Perhaps you do. Which person who loves you, or whom you love, does all this bring to mind?
On this feast of the Sacred Heart, when we are called to recognise God’s love in the world, what experiences have I had, what memories do I have, that remind me of God’s love for me?
Listen to the reading again; note how in the passage, God both lifts us up to his level and also comes down to our level.
Can I ask God now to help me grasp, with my mind and with my heart, just how much he loves me?
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.