Moses said to the people: 'You are a people consecrated to the Lord your God; it is you that the Lord our God has chosen to be his very own people out of all the peoples of the earth.
'If the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, it was not because you outnumbered other peoples: you were the least of all peoples. It was for love of you and to keep the oath he swore to your fathers that the Lord brought you out with his mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know then that the Lord your God is God indeed, the faithful God who is true to his covenant and his graciousness for a thousand generations towards those who love him and keep his commandments, but who punishes in their own persons those that hate him. He is not slow to destroy the man who hates him; he makes him work out his punishment in person. You are therefore to keep and observe the commandments and statutes and ordinances that I lay down for you today.'
My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings. (R./)
It is he who forgives all your guilt,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with love and compassion. (R./)
The Lord does deeds of justice,
gives judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses
and his deeds to Israel's sons. (R./)
The Lord is compassion and love,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
He does not treat us according to our sins
nor repay us according to our faults. (R./).
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love
can never have known God, because God is love.
God's love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God, but God's love for us
when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify
that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known
and put our faith in God's love towards ourselves.
God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God,
and God lives in him.
Jesus exclaimed, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.'
A picture of the Sacred Heart was a hugely popular image of Christ for generations of Catholics. It speaks of the love of Christ, a love most totally shown upon the cross. The pierced heart of Christ proclaims that "greater love" of which Jesus says: "No one can have greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." The image of the Sacred Heart offered the message of love in a very personal way, echoes in Saint Paul's words, "I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Saint John gives us one of the shortest yet most profound statements about God in all of the Bible: "God is love." He adds that "God's love was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son."
Jesus is the supreme revelation of God who is love. All authentic love is life-giving and that is uniquely true of Jesus, the revelation of God's love. In the gospel, He uses the image of "resting" to speak of that love. He invites all who are burdened to come to him and to find rest, to find life. Even a slight inkling of the tremendous love of God for us can have a transforming effect. It can empower us to love one another as God has loved us.
The Old Testament translates God’s constant love into the image of a shepherd tending his flocks. Jesus goes even further, with his parable of the lost sheep, to show the Father’s tireless search for our salvation. Based on the "Heart of Jesus" as a symbol of love, the Church strongly promotes devotion to Christ as the incarnate love of God. A key text in St. Luke is about God the Shepherd who, on losing one stray sheep, leaves the other ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until he finds it. Later, in St. John’s Gospel, Jesus transfers this Shepherd imagery to his own life’s work. He himself became the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep. This developing awareness that Jesus is the visible manifestation of God’s love in our world gradually led to an explicit homage to the Heart of Jesus as the symbol of God’s love for us.
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, within the fervent atmosphere of the Cistercian monastic reform, we find the first clear signs of devotion to the Sacred Heart. But it was not until 1670 that the idea of a formal Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was promoted publicly by Saint Jean Eudes (1602-1680). Soon afterward, this gained great impetus through the visions granted to Margaret Mary Alacoque in the convent of Rue de Bac (Paris), whose intense devotion to the Heart of Jesus urged her to "diffuse the treasures of His goodness," convinced that He had chosen her especially for this work.
In the following century, many requests to Rome to officially recognize the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were turned down. But in 1765, at the request of the Queen of France, the papacy allowed the Feast to the Sacred Heart to be celebrated in France. A century later,, at the petition of the French bishops, Pope Pius IX extended the Feast to the universal Church, with an emphasis on the need for reparation for sins and abuses whether personal or social. Today, the devotion to the Sacred Heart is centered around the centrality of Divine love, encouraging all to trust in God’s overflowing benevolence towards the world He has made.