June 12, 2015

Gospel JN 19:31-37
Since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.
“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”
Every religion adopts various traditions and devotions.
In the Catholic church, today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, when Catholics are
called upon to seriously dwell on the great love Jesus Christ has for the world.
There are many Catholic traditions attached to this day. The one that most vividly sticks in my mind from childhood is the widely held belief that Christ will bless those places wherein the image of his Sacred Heart is displayed.
I clearly remember at six years old, looking at the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my grandmother’s second floor cold water flat, at 268 Washington Street in Weymouth. It hung in the hallway outside her bedroom.
Trying to cope with her many grandchildren, Nana would often bless herself when passing the picture of Jesus’ heart and whisper the prayer, “O’Sacred Heart of Jesus give me strength.”
Although Catholicism had changed in many ways since the 1940’s, people still tend to hold onto the traditions of their childhood. Even today, Nana’s words ring in my ears. In her twangy Irish brogue she would solemnly tell us kids, “Our good Lord will bless and keep safe any home where the picture of his Sacred Heart is on display.”
As a kid, Nana’s beliefs and whispered prayers sealed the deal for me. Passing the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the hallway, I would dutifully bow my head.
For as long as I can remember, a small framed picture of the Sacred Heart has occupied it’s place on my dresser. Not long ago, I passed the belief of Jesus’ special protection for the displaying of his Sacred Heart on to my grandson, Nathan.
He didn’t have anything to say, but he listened attentively. I find myself wondering if the picture will someday be on Nathan’s dresser for my great-grandchildren to see. And, if Nathan will pass on our beliefs.
For years, in my darkest hours, I too like Nana, have uttered the age old prayer, “O’Sacred Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in thee. O’Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
Repeating it over and over as a mantra has brought me peace of mind and heart and given me the strength to overcome many trials and tribulations.

“This is what praying is,” he stressed, “opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something. If we close the door, God can do nothing!” Pope Francis