Sr Silvana Dallanegra rscj is a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and the Caritas Development Worker for West London. Here she writes about the perfect and all-encompassing love of Jesus Christ that is celebrated with today’s feast day.
For us Religious of the Sacred Heart, today’s feast of the Sacred Heart is a day for celebrating the source of God’s unlimited, unconditional love, and of recommitting ourselves to our mission of discovering and making this love known. This evening, I will be celebrating the feast with the parish of Our Lady of Fatima, White City, who I have been accompanying on their Love in Action journey. It feels entirely right to be with them today, celebrating the One who is the starting point for all our loving, and surely the original Love in action, par excellence!
Last year, the parish placed an icon of St Josephine Bakhita by their statue of the Sacred Heart, and whenever I see it, this, too, feels entirely right. The Heart of Jesus, pierced and wounded on the Cross, is a sanctuary for all our pain; it is the place where we can bring our wounds and our broken hearts, for healing and restoration. And it is absolutely the place where we can bring, through our prayer, all the pain and wounds of our world, and everyone who, like Bakhita, has been abused and exploited, or scarred in any way, for their healing and restoration.
Who can you bring, through your prayer and concern, into the Heart of Jesus?
The Sacred Heart is a moveable feast, coming at the end of a lovely stream of moveable feasts, all determined by Easter. This year, this means that we celebrate the Heart of Jesus towards the end of both Refugee Week and Learning Disability Week – and this too, feels entirely right. The Heart of Jesus is a place of refuge and welcome; a shelter, a safe place, a place of peace where every fear is put to rest. And there are no visa requirements to the Sacred Heart; no discouraging complicated forms, no fees or secret passwords. This is a Heart wide-open to EVERYONE, and especially those who find themselves vulnerable, at risk, or excluded – which means people with disabilities, and refugees and asylum seekers are one hundred percent included.
And when Jesus invites us to learn from him, it is to learn from his Heart: to discover his attitudes and preferences; to make them our own, and to learn how to love as he loves, with tenderness, compassion and wide-openness to all.
What is Jesus teaching you about loving, and about being someone who provides refuge, welcome and peace to all those you encounter, especially the weakest and most vulnerable?
This year, the Gospel for the feast invites us to reflect on the tenderness and watchful care of the Good Shepherd (Lk 15: 3-7), who knows each one intimately and rejoices to bring us home, into his wide-open Heart, where there is space enough for everyone. Lovingly, the Shepherd reaches out to the most vulnerable, the unwanted and unloved, those suffering any form of rejection, and continues to teach and call us to do the same, in both imitation of him, and service of him.
Who are the ‘lost sheep’ the Good Shepherd is inviting you to reach out to?
Next year will be the 150th anniversary of this Diocese’s consecration to the Sacred Heart. What better way to celebrate this than by growing and learning to become truly, wholly loving people of his Heart?