Friday, March 5, 2010

Loving with the Heart of Jesus

I related today's Scripture readings to the parish mission I am giving in the Port Austin, Michigan area.

In the first reading, the Old Testament story of Joseph, there is a clear example of something I talked about on the first night of the mission. There we see two ways that sin works. First, a lot of sin is recycled hurt. "Hurt people hurt people." When we get hurt we tend to pass the hurt on to others. Joseph's brothers were hurt that their father Jacob showed favoritism toward Joseph. A resentment built up and they acted on it. They treated Joseph like an object. This is the second way that sin often operates in our lives. We deny the inherent dignity of others and treat them as objects, either for pleasure, or in this case, as problems that can be dismissed and disposed of. Joseph's brothers first decided to dispose of him but then sold him like a piece of property to a caravan of traders.

Jesus was also rejected and disposed of. The parable in today's Gospel anticipates this.

But in both cases, God took the sin and made it work toward good. Because Joseph was sold and ended up in Egypt he was able to help his family survive a famine. Because Jesus died on the cross He reconciled humanity with God. As Paul writes in Romans 8: 28, "all things work for good for those who love God."

Lent is a time for us to be converted from recycling the hurt of our lives and from treating other people as objects. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are forgiven and healed, but the process of our transformation really progresses through the Holy Eucharist. I spoke about this last night, saying that our union with Jesus in the Eucharist makes us one with Him and with one another. This helps us to see one another differently.

In the Holy Eucharist we receive Jesus, Body and Blood, soul and divinity, including His Sacred Heart. Today is First Friday, a day to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We do so when we let the Heart of Jesus transform our hearts from hearts of stone (like those of Joseph's brothers) into hearts of flesh, hearts like the Heart of Jesus. With this Heart united to ours, we see each other differently. We are able to love, as Jesus Himself loves, even those who have hurt us.


  1. Father,

    My prayer as I prepare to receive Eucharist is a prayer to undergo the transformation you refer to in your post:

    Lord Jesus, Son of God, empty me of all darkness, and fill me with your Life and Light and Love.

  2. "Recycled hurt" I never thought of it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense. It makes me want to revisit some of my old hurts and see how I might have hurt others because of them. It will make for a good examination of conscience.