by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
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Ez 34: 11-16
Lk. 15: 3-7
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus can sometimes be confusing. What exactly does it mean? A look at each of today’s readings brings us close to some answers.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus represents his divine love. What does this divine love look like? The prophet Ezekiel tell us:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 16
The love of God through Jesus Christ has the kindness, patience, and tenderness of a good shepherd. God reaches out to us, gathering us back to him. He shows his love in concrete ways in the world, by helping the injured and healing the sick. As the Gospel shows us, the fate of each sheep is of the highest importance to God.
This divine love is also self-sacrificial:
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Romans 5: 5B-6, 8-10
In his sacrifice Jesus gave us an example to follow and showed us the depths of divine love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart brings us closer to Jesus, our good shepherd who loves us and saves us.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.