GOING into a Catholic Church building, one usually comes across a statue of Jesus showing his heart.
Such a statue is called “The Sacred Heart”.
His displayed heart tells of the strong and constant love of Jesus the Saviour for every human being, past, present and future.
In this vivid way the Son of God keeps saying that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), unlimited love, and only love.
Throughout his years on earth Jesus kept showing his love for people in so many wonderful ways – in kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness.
There was no limit to what his love would give or where it would go.
The love which imitates the love of Jesus for others is therefore a practical, down-to-earth kind of love.
It’s a kindness and compassion kind of love, a self-forgetting kind of love.
It’s a self-sacrificing kind of love even to the point, as shown by so many brave soldiers in two World Wars, of giving up their own lives so that others might be free – free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving persons too.
It’s our love for others that keeps the great love of Jesus for people alive in our world today.
An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa caring for a man with gangrene, remarked to her: “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.”
Mother Teresa replied: “Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount, but I do it for love of God.”
True love is the opposite of selfishness.
Selfishness confines us, keeps us shut in. It builds barriers, even walls, between us and others.
What frees us is caring about others and caring for others, being friends, being sisters and brothers, being good neighbours.
In short, it’s love alone that frees us from the cage of selfishness.
A doctor, who has shared some of the deepest moments in the lives of many patients, says that people facing death don’t think about the degrees they’ve earned, the positions they’ve held, or how much wealth they’ve amassed.
What really matters at the end is whom you have loved and who has loved you.
Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us.
Being loved gives us a surprising energy and courage.
Love makes us fruitful, productive, strong and constant in doing good.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her work on the stages of dying, has written: “Love is the flame that warms our soul, energises our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and to one another.”
To love is to heal, both those who receive it and those who give it.
To refuse to love is to die.
To decide to love is to live. But love is a choice, not a feeling, and when we choose to be loving, caring, healing, helping and forgiving persons, we experience well-being, contentment and happiness.
Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for others, surely that’s what life is all about.
There’s really no other way. So Jesus insists, strongly insists: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
So, if we feel distant from God in Jesus, we only have to guess who has moved away from whom.
Nothing we do stops him loving us.
God in Jesus loves us as we are, not as we would like to be.
As the old saying goes: “You don’t have to get good to get God, you have to get God to get good.”
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ill be celebrated on Friday, June 28.
Fr Brian Gleeson is a Passionist priest and doctor of theology.