LITANY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, PART V
21. HEART OF JESUS, FOUNTAIN OF LIFE AND HOLINESS
Only God is the fountain of life, as the Psalmist sings (see Ps 36:10). Only God is thrice Holy, as the Cherubim in the vision of Isaiah proclaim, and as we echo in every Eucharistic Celebration.
As the Incarnate Son of God, only Jesus, could say in all truth: "I am the Life" (Jn 11:25 and 14:6). Only He could challenge His opponents" "Can any of you charge me with sin?" (Jn 8:46). It was not a vain boast but the plain truth. And the source of all life and holiness in Him was His Heart, a Heart that wished to share its life and holiness with all human beings.
The whole purpose of His coming to earth was to do just that: "I came that they might have life, life to the full" (Jn 10:10). This much we can glance from His conversation with the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob (see Jn 4:14) and in Jerusalem when He proclaimed: "Whoever believes in me, springs of living water will flow from within him" (Jn 7:38).
The evangelist notes that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, the Divine Gift of the Risen Christ, who would transform those who receive Him - all of us - into channels of life and holiness, which would benefit our neighbor and thereby lead them back to the Fountain of all Life and Holiness.
22. HEART OF JESUS, PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS
Sin destroys any good relationship with God and our neighbor. It makes us repellent to God's Holiness. This is what causes Him to turn His face away from us in disgust. And this is what would condemn us to everlasting unhappiness.
It is in such hopeless situation that Jesus willingly comes as our Redeemer, and Reconciler. Through His life of perfect obedience and His total self-offering on Calvary with the most perfect love that welled up from His Heart, He made up for the transgression of all mankind.
It was through His sacrifice on the Cross that Jesus atoned for our sins by shedding His innocent blood with His most pure and universal love. This is how He became "propitiation for our sins" and His most holy and loving Heart brought the Father to look on us favorably as His beloved forgiven children.
In heaven, Jesus continues to be "propitiation for our sins" as He constantly intercedes for all sinners with the Father. (See Rom 8:34 and Heb 7:25). And here on earth, the Church makes visible and effective Jesus' saving intercession every time she celebrates the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Our whole-hearted participation in this act of worship and atonement enables us to benefit from the redeeming stream of grace that flows from His pierced Heart.
23. HEART OF JESUS, LOADED DOWN WITH REPROACHES
Becoming "propitiation for our sins" cost Jesus immensely. In this invocation, we reflect on how He was "loaded down with reproaches" - that series of emotional tortures which He endured, especially during the terrible hours of His passion.
The Roman soldiers blindfolded, hit and shouted at Him" "Guess who has hit you!" They crowned Him with thorns and mocked, "Hail, King of the Jews!" The crowd demanded, "Crucify him and set Barabbas free!" The Jewish authorities challenged him to come down from the Cross that they might believe in him . . .(See the Passion narratives of all the Gospels). It was more than one could bear, but Jesus endured it all with boundless patience, rooted in His most loving Heart.
The prophet Isaiah had already foreseen both the cruel treatment and the Divine Victim's endurance: "He was spurned . . . one of those from whom men hide their faces, and we held him in no esteem." But, "though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth . . . " (Is 53:3.7). Jesus, the Servant of Yahweh, bore all this with His forgiving love.
What a sublime example of moral strength for us when we, too, may find ourselves treated unfairly, despised, or innocently brought down by betrayals and disappointments!
24. HEART OF JESUS, BRUISED FOR OUR SINS
Jesus did not just suffer underservedly a series of humiliatons and insults. He also suffered physically in His most pure and Holy Body, which has been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and which had been born of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. Chained and scourged mercilessly; crowned with piercing thorns, made to bear a heavy Cross, nailed to a Cross on which He hung during three seemingly endless hours . . . His whole body was reduced to a bleeding wound!
And He was treated so cruelly not becuase He deserved it, but because He volunteered to take our place. He was "bruised for our offenses," that is for our sins. "It was our infirmities that He bore," proclaimed the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier and again echoed by St. Peter: "Upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole" (Is 53:4-5 and 1 Pt 2:24).
Jesus suffered all these torments because of all our sins. He was the only innocent one who should not have been treated that way. We were the ones who deserved those punishments, but He volunteered to endure them in place of us. He did that not because He owed anything to us, but simply out of love - the love that overflows from His Sacred Heart!
25. HEART OF JESUS, MADE OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH
God's beautiful plan for mankind was thwarted for a time, by the disobedience of Adam and Eve to His clear prohibition to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That disobedience was followed by innumerable others, and a night of suffering and frustrations engulfed the history of mankind.
Jesus came as its Holy Redeemer, His mission was to undo and make up for all the acts of disobedience of the descendants of Adan and Eve. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we hear Jesus say: "Holocausts and sin offerings you did not delight in. Then I said . . . Behold, I come to do Your will O God!" (Heb 10:6-7). In fulfillment of His mission, the whole of Jesus' life was a perfect "YES!" to the Father. In all truth He could say, "My food is to do the will of the One who sent me" (Jn 4:34). In the prayer he taught His Disciples, He included the petition, "Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
And He practised what He taught. St. Paul synthesized Jesus' life with the sentence: "He humbled himself obediently accepting even death, death on a Cross!" (Phil 2:8). And His human career ended with the exclamation that came from the depth of His Heart: "It is accomplished!" (Jn 19:30). This is what makes Jesus the perfect example of obedience for all of us to emulate.
LITANY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, PART IV
The Messenger of Divine Love
Volume II, Number 4