The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
(Ezekiel 34:11-16; Romans 5:5b-11; Luke 15:3-7)
St. John Vianney, the “Cure of Ars,” lived in France in the early part of the nineteenth century. Conditions then and there seem to have been much like today in the United States. Enlightenment thinking made headway among the people. Many no longer attended Mass. John Vianney joined a band of faithful priests in trying to reconcile the people with the Church. He did not preach because his theology was considered weak. But he became known as an attentive and compassionate confessor. In time people came to Ars from all over Europe to confess their sins. It is said that he listened to people sins with the “tenderness of Christ.” Today, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the Church celebrates that Christ’s tenderness.
In the gospel Jesus describes the love of God with the parable of the shepherd and the loss sheep. Even though the shepherd has many sheep, he goes through the trouble to search one that is lost. The rescue attempt is made in the desert where the shepherd may lose his life. But he takes the risk out of love for the lost sheep. Jesus himself is God’s reaching out to save every man and woman. He seeks to bring them peace and happiness.
Having experienced Christ’s love in Penance, we want to reach out to others. We will tell them about Christ, the Good Shepherd, and how he may be encountered in the sacraments. We should not try to water down the teachings of the Church which have become an obstacle for many. But we can explain its teachings follow from the gospel, are logically coherent, and have withstood the test of time.