“These writing’s are based on specific readings listed for each particular day. Sometimes it might help to read the readings by clicking on the “UCCB daily readings link.” You might have to do a bit of searching to match the post’s date to a corresponding reading. Other times one can conveniently click on the link within the post. Sometimes they are there, and other times they are not. Of course one can simply read the post all by itself”
How can a person describe the Sacred Heart of Jesus? It is a heart commonly wrapped in thorns as mockery. It is a heart pierced, wounded. It is a heart of salvation, charity called love. It is the heart of a shepherd, recall “Good Shepherd Sunday.” It is a heart that offers forgiveness, a broken heart. A heart that offers salvation, a heart pure. A heart sacred. Descended from heaven, born in a manger, it screams follow me. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an old one.
The first reading of the day Dt 7:6-11 : Moses says “You are a people sacred to the LORD, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.” God’s Love for man, or God is love, and that is at the heart of Jesus. It is its center. The Sacred Heart if Jesus is God’s love for man. More than love, a love temporary it is fidelity. Fidelity, faithful. Fidelity, loyal. Fidelity, truthful. The Sacred Heart is one of fidelity. The Sacred Heart is one of emotions. Not one of body, but one of spirit. It is the essence of life, an organ revered. Don’t view the organ as a modern physician: to them it is a simple pump. To the ancients it was the seat of life and reason and emotion. It is both emotion and intellect. Think Cupid, think Love. It is a heart that delivered the Hebrews from slavery. That is why John says “This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world. Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God….” And concludes: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” God is love, and the Sacred Heart is God. 1 Jn 4:7-16
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones. Mt 11:25-30
And a Sacred Heart calls us, it reaches out. Please note that early on I mentioned “the Good Shepherd” The Sacred Heart is a Shepherd, it is not an organ that simply pumps blood. Imagery is important.
A few short days ago the opening of the daily readings caught my eye. It began like this:
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, of the grace of God
that has been given to the churches of Macedonia,
for in a severe test of affliction,
the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty
overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
That got me thinking of Macedonia, and of Corinth. Paul talks of the Macedonians and he addresses the Corinthians. A tale of the Macedonian Churches to the churches of Corinth. Later I started reading about the bible that letter was from. It was not about one bible, but different versions of the same. Not only different versions, but also different languages. And then there were the opinions of those that read the same article as me. Some said, “I read this version, but nit that!” “This is good, that is garbage.” This is right and that is wrong. I can see tempers flaring and fists flying. Different communities, different opinions, different attitudes, and different conclusions. Liberal, and traditional, conservative, orthodox, reformed, modernist, futuristic, and labels I have not thought of yet. Scattered and varied, but they have one thing in common with those churches of Macedonia and Corinth. They all belong to the same Church, one Church universal. Each had their own conclusions, and opinions, and tendencies; but they allied with one Church and were part of that same voice. The voice of the Church. The varied voices tried to utter one sound, and how did they decide the sound to sing? They prayed.
*oh, those that stormed out of the room? protestants.
Corpus Christi, a solemnity that reminds us that Jesus is always near us. We are never abandoned or alone. The LORD is always present in the tabernacle, the ciborium, the chalice, and in us. Always present, and truly present. That is the foundation of the Church, it is what Jesus taught us.(Martin Luther argued, Luther is wrong.) “I am the bread come down from heaven.” “I am true food, and true drink.” “Eat of my body and drink of my Blood.” Never abandoned, and always amongst us. The Eucharist is true food, a necessity to sustain life. Certainly a necessity to sustain a life in Christ. To recognize the Blessed Sacrament as a necessity is to be reminded of the command “take and eat.” Though the gifts, bread and wine, are presented by humanity; the sacrament is instituted by God. The second person of the blessed Trinity.
Wander back through the Gospel. Go back earlier than the Last Supper. In the multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. Jesus took the loaves, said a prayer and blessed it. He then gave it to the Apostles so that they might distribute it to those that hungered. Priests today take the same bread, say the prayers, and deliver the consecrated body and blood of Christ to those that hunger. It is no wonder that the disciples recognized the risen Lord in the breaking of bread. That bread, His Body, was central to His ministry. The sacrament did not have its origin’s in the Last Supper, it began when the Infant was placed in a feeding trough. Food and Drink, essential for a journey. Bread and wine, consecrated by the Priest. The importance of the Priest. Saint Francis once commented on this during a time when corruption was common. He reminded people to respect priests because they deliver the Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi. The Eucharist. The true Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ. A sanctuary candle reminds us of GOD’S presence.
Bread is food for a journey and the word Companions has its origins in travelers with bread. Bet Lehem, [bet ˈleχem], “House of Bread”; Bethlehem. The journey is important. Pilgrimage or Exodus. “I am the true bread come down from heaven” refers to the Manna that sustained Gods people on their journey. The Eucharist does the same on ours. Eucharist as food for a journey is commemorated in the Corpus Christi processions that are associated with this Solemnity. How often does Jesus appear to disciples that are walking, traveling from one place to another? Jesus is always present to them no matter where they might be. As one can travel from location to location physically, one also journeys spiritually. From sinner to saint. A discalced congregation is a religious congregation that goes barefoot. A reminder of the journey, and its difficulty. A journey, a procession. This procession is also a proclamation, something to remember. Reaffirming. Discalced is often a vow. (Broken English, flickering thoughts. )
One is certainly reminded if the difficulty of the journey, can one forget the procession that led to a Corpus hung on a Cross. Good Friday. The journey was a climb. Exhausting, Jesus fell three times. They gave him vinegar for His thirst, a bitterness that He refused at the end of the journey. He hung on a Cross. Look at the gift Jesus gave us, as we walk the journey. The way of the Cross is a journey. The bread of life, come down from heaven. The Resurrection.
A great ball of fire descends from heaven and crashes towards earth, it is Pentecost. (I made that up.)
What marvels first about this day is that Mary and the Apostles a locked in a room with the wind blowing outside. It sounds as if they are weathering a storm. I first think fear, but then I think again. I think of wind blowing across the sea and of a breath across water, God is with them. It’s the breath of life. God is with them and they learned the nature of God from their LORD. What do they fear? God is with them.
Pentecost is not unique to the New Testament, the feast does follow Jewish tradition. Perhaps the Old celebration might shed some light on the new? Some research might be required. The Jewish feast is Shavuot and is the final celebration of a grain harvest that lasted seven weeks. Last week was the seventh Sunday of Easter. Coincidence? No. Pentecost is a harvest festival, and particularly the harvest of wheat. The gathering in that upper room is the first Apostles, the first harvest. From the Old celebration an image of wheat and bread begins to appear. It’s the first harvest of wheat and suddenly the gospel of the multiplication of loaves and fishes enters the subconscious. These Apostles are the first but they will multiply. Pentecost, wheat, bread; they are all related. Pentecost is known as the birth of the Church. Interesting story; Shavuot celebrates the grain harvest, Sukkot celebrates the fruit harvest. If I recall correctly Sukkot is at the same time as the transfiguration. Bread and wine.
Pentecost, Shavuot, in the older tradition celebrates something other than an agricultural harvest. It also celebrates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. To one group the receiving of law, the other Spirit. A new creation, a new testament. A wind blows outside, Jesus enters the room through closed doors. The barrier between heaven and earth is shattered. What was closed is now opened. It is more than the barrier between heaven and earth that disappears. The reading of today tells of the Tower of Babel. That tower was destroyed and tongues confused because those people tied to become gods. At Pentecost the tongues are understood. Although many languages are spoken, they can all understand. Sometimes I think of that tower destroyed so that man might shut up and listen, in that upper room they listen and understand. A bridge between heaven and earth, a bridge between nations. Creation restored. I can’t miss the story if creation with that wind blowing outside. I also remember Noah’s storm.
With all of this babble, what was the message that the Lord gives as he enters through those closed doors. The first is simply “Peace be with you.” How often does that message become lost among men pretending to become gods? To allow for peace is to shatter the barriers of hostility and hatred. Peace turns a raging storm into a breath of fresh air. That storm outside can either be a torrent of fear and destruction or the breath of life. Jesus’s second message? “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” It is a message that gives a path to peace. A breath of fresh air that sustains life, not destroys it. Odd to think how dark and frightening the Pentecost story is with all doors shut and windows shuttered. What a refreshing difference once they are opened. I becomes a breath of fresh air. The breath of life revisited.