The Love of the Sacred Heart Calls Us to Befriend All

On June 19ththe U.S. celebrates a fairly new federal holiday, Juneteenth, signed into law by President Biden in 2021. The day celebrates the ending of slavery in our country. It was on this date in 1865 that the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation was announced in Texas, the last state to do so.

I am writing this reflection on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi each year. I’d like to connect this feast with the upcoming holiday. As followers of Jesus we are called to reverence every person as a beloved child of God. We are invited to love others following the example of Jesus who gave His life as a ransom for many.

Whether or not you have developed your own personal devotion to the Sacred Heart, I invite you to explore its value. This devotion begins as we give thanks to God for sending His Word to live among us. The “Sacred Heart” symbolizes Jesus’ gift of his entire being, Love from Love, to show us how we might love.

The act or art of loving is an ongoing process which necessitates deep soul-searching and fervent prayer. That’s what it took for Americans to finally outlaw slavery. Because it’s a process, ending slavery did not really end when Lincoln put pen to paper, but when each American opened himself or herself to the action of God in their heart. For some this was more difficult than for others.

Don’t we find this today when it comes to opening our heart to those whom we perceive to be different from us? Seeing others as individuals not as members of a group can facilitate more openness as can sharing common experiences. Approaching others with curiosity not judgment is an attitude that also signals welcome to another.

St. Marie of the Incarnation, the founder of the Ursuline Sisters of Quebec, brought the Feast of the Sacred Heart to the New World with its first celebration on June 18, 1700. Undoubtedly, her own devotion fed her missionary call. These sisters lived unselfish love as they taught the native children of the region along with the children of the French settlers of Quebec; surely this is an example of how the Love of the Sacred Heart that filled their lives opened their hearts to include those who were different in their ministry of teaching. May we commit ourselves to growth in the work of eradicating racism in our day.

Let us pray in her words:

“O Incarnate Word, beloved Jesus, you know what I would ask of God through your divine Heart. I implore it from you in asking it of God. Graciously hear my prayer. I recommend to you all souls together with my own; grant that we may all be united with you. Amen.”

Sister Virginia DeVinne