Theological consideration for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

A letter of motivation is an integral part of every written application. It is one of the “usual documents” that you have to submit. After all, the employer would like to know why the candidate is applying for this particular position. And it’s good and important to have motivated employees, people who enjoy their jobs, and put their heart and soul into it. “What prompted you to apply for this position?” It is a question you often hear in job interviews. As a candidate, you must know a convincing answer – otherwise the dream of a new job can explode very quickly.

Veneration of the Heart of Jesus is a particularly traditional expression of Catholic piety. The Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ is a symbol of his love for people. Even in antiquity and the early Middle Ages, there were echoes of the image of the Church sprouting from the Heart of Jesus. This tradition was encouraged by German mysticism in the High and Late Middle Ages, but also by Franciscan and Carthusian friars.

Open the heart of Jesus

What motivates Jesus, what motivates him to approach people in new ways? We face this question on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Because it is actually a very strange festival that the church celebrates the week after Corpus Christi. Some will still remember the stucco figures that were in almost every home: Jesus, his heart open in his chest who points to this heart with his hands. Then there are hymns this heart sings: “Heart of Jesus, the sacrificial fire of God that kindled our love,” for example. But what does this festival mean?

One approach opens up the question of motivation. Because it is about motivation, about what motivates a person to do a specific thing. And when we look at the life of Jesus, we see how he draws close to people, how he devotes himself especially to those with whom no one wants to do anything. The scriptures read in the liturgy on that day focus on the Good Shepherd. For the shepherd who left ninety-nine sheep to chase a stray sheep.

Transformation into the marginalized

In the life of Jesus of Nazareth, this image becomes concrete: Jesus does not ask for the applause of the audience, does not seek the respect of people. He goes to the sick and the outcasts. He seeks table company with tax collectors and sinners. You did it for the lost. And whoever comes to him, does not turn away – whatever matters are with him and his life. Jesus is there for her and him. He takes care of people and seeks community with them – again and again.

What prompted Jesus to do this? The Apostle Paul’s letter to Titus can answer this. There he says: “But when the kindness of our Savior appeared, and His kindness saved us” (3:4). Jesus Christ is the goodness and benevolence of God, and he is his incarnate love. That’s why he can’t do anything but love people over and over again. Being charitable means turning to people, taking their concerns and needs seriously, and accepting them for what they are. The life of Jesus shows us some typical examples of how this can work.

long live charitable work

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate that Jesus Christ is the love of God. It is the embodiment of God’s charitable work that has appeared among us in this world. “Love is not just a word,” says the hymn, “Love is words and deeds.” Jesus doesn’t just preach love, and he doesn’t just talk about it – he lives it, and puts it into practice. Being the love of God drives him not to let that love come alive.

All moments of his life are carried by love: if we look at the Gospels, we can discover this in many ways. The Feast of the Sacred Heart reminds us that Jesus did not come to judge the world, to condemn people for what they have done or accomplished. Jesus Christ the Savior appeared among us to save, heal and reconcile us. We can remember this on this feast day and in all the days of our lives.

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