Letting our hearts be pierced

| Deacon Kevin Mantney | June 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

“They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:10-11).

The prophet Zecha­riah is prophesying about the end times by alluding to King Jo­siah, who was killed by being pierced through with an arrow in the plain of Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:23). “All Judah and Jerusalem mourned” the death of this righteous king (2 Chronicles 35:24).

My classmates and I traveled on pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past January and we will never forget our experience of Megiddo: a deluge with flash flooding. For me, this powerfully expresses the experience of all of Judah mourning the death of King Josiah.

In his Gospel, St. John applies Zecha­riah’s words to Christ crucified in order to show that Jesus fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy (John 19:34-37). After Jesus had offered up his spirit to the Father and died on the cross, a soldier thrust his lance into Christ’s side.

This is one of the scriptural foundations for devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which developed through the centuries and reached a pinnacle in the apparitions to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Paray le Monial, France in the 17th century.

Our Lord revealed his heart to her and lamented, “Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude. . . .”

Two responses

How are we to respond to this? I think there are two ways.

First of all, inspired by the words of the prophet Zechariah, we can mourn over the Pierced One because his heart was pierced for love of us and to save us from our sins. We can ask our Savior for the gift of contrition and approach the sacrament of confession with confidence in his mercy.

Second, we must let our own hearts be pierced.

The more we seek the face of God and allow our hearts to be united with his, the more our intellects, our wills and even our sentiments will be conformed to his.

An ancient definition of love is “to want the same thing, and to reject the same thing” (“Deus Caritas Est,” no. 17). The thing that saddens God the most is when his beloved creatures turn away from his love. When we see areas in our own lives and in the lives of those we love in which we are indifferent to God’s love, this can cause us great pain. When we are faced with indifference and rejection for the sake of Christ, we must let our hearts be pierced — or else they will become hardened.

When we suffer because someone we love (or someone we just met on the street) is not embracing the mercy of the Father, we participate in the suffering of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. In some cases, it would be easier to harden our hearts and to distance ourselves from a person rather than to continue to reach out to him or her and risk the pain of indifference or rejection. However, in imitation of Christ, we may let our hearts be pierced so that they may burn with compassion.

Deacon Manthey is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His home parish is St. Michael in Farmington; his teaching parish is St. John Neumann in Eagan.

 


Readings

Sunday, June 23
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
  • Galatians 3:26-29
  • Luke 9:18-24

Reflection

Pray in front of an image of the Sacred Heart? How are you letting your heart be pierced so you can become more Christ-like?

Category: Sunday Scriptures