A few years ago our British friends celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Celebrations began with everyone singing, "All you need is love." While we wish them well, we must say about love, that if it is only an earthly love, and not the love that comes from God, it will fade and pass away with the kingdoms of this world. But we look for the love that comes from the Heart of Christ, which is an inexhaustible fountain of mercy and love.
People dream about striking oil in their backyards. Wars are planned and fought over access to oil, but we have something much better, since we are rich in love. A girl up in Canada bought a piece of property way up north, and is now digging up diamonds. Perhaps she thinks she is rich beyond her wildest dreams, as they say, but we are much richer, because we have the love of Christ. "The love of God," says St. Paul, "is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom.5:5).
The Feast of the Sacred Heart, just celebrated this Friday past, reveals to us the fullness of God's love for us. The Heart of Jesus symbolizes both the human and the divine love of the Savior, since He loves us with His human heart as well as with the fullness of His divinity. This fountain of love is ours, if only we turn to the merciful Heart of Jesus.
Pope Pius XII says in his great encyclical, Haurietis Aquas:
"Those Heavenly blessings which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus pours into the souls of the faithful, purifying them, refreshing them with Heavenly consolation and urging them to acquire all virtues, cannot be counted. … (A)s We behold the rich abundance of salutary waters, that is, of heavenly gifts of divine love, flowing from the Sacred Heart of our Redeemer and permeating countless children of the Catholic Church (under the inspiration and operation of the Holy Ghost), we cannot refrain … from exhorting you paternally to join Us in giving glory and thanks to God, the giver of all good gifts" (Haurietis Aquas, 2,20, May 15, 1956).
The Heart of Jesus, represented as crowned with thorns, reveals to us the connection between love and suffering. Because of His love for us Jesus chose to endure persecution, the agony in the garden, the road to Calvary, and a cruel death on the Cross. Now, having risen from the dead, and sitting at the right hand of the Father, He suffers no more in His physical body. Today, He suffers in His members, in His Mystical Body, which is the Church. St. Paul comments: "I rejoice now in the sufferings I bear for your sake; and what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ I fill up in my flesh for His body, which is the Church" (Col.1:24).
Today Jesus suffers in the little ones who never see the light of this world because of abortion. He suffers in the innocent who are betrayed into sin by wolves in sheep's clothing. He suffers in the struggling faithful who are confused and led into error by false teachers and prophets. He suffers in His Church tossed in the storms of heresy and apostasy, while her false shepherds feed themselves and abandon the sheep. Christ suffers in us as we endure our present trials and tribulations.
We who now suffer must be equal to that suffering through love. It may seem like quite a challenge, but St. John tells us in his first epistle, "Let us therefore love, because God first loved us" (1 Jn.4:19). We see that God has already taken the first step. The riches of the Heart of Christ are now ours for the asking. We are rich in love. And we who are rich in love can afford to love truly, fully, and without counting the cost.
Love enables us to change our lives, so that we do not behave as the world does. Do I see resentment? Anger? Vengefulness? Self-pity? Cold hearts? Hard Hearts? Surely those who are rich in love "beyond their wildest dreams" can afford to rise above these things. It is true that sometimes no one seems to care, so that we feel rejected and unloved. Perhaps we have even been abused and betrayed, but we are still rich in love, because "He has first loved us." God's love heals us of our wounds and fulfills the longings of our hearts.
Sometimes we have to be very careful with our use of money. We count the pennies, and dole them out sparingly, hoping they will last till our next paycheck, or until someone comes to our rescue. Some people are that way with love, they dole it out like pennies, and they don't have any left at all for some people. But with the infinitely rich treasures of the Heart of Christ, we can afford to spend lavishly. In fact, the more we give love away, the more we have, whereas if we give of our love sparingly, sooner or later it dries up altogether.
Don't wait for the other fellow to love you first. You must love first, as God loves, and without asking for anything in return. We must even love our enemies, Jesus tells us. But remember, you are rich, you can afford it. Scripture says that the charity of many will grow cold towards the end times (Mt.24:12). Indeed, the world is becoming a cold and desolate place, and it can only be warmed up if you begin to exercise your power to love. We might take our example from the saints, like St. Paul, who tells the Corinthians: "But I will most gladly spend and be spent myself for your souls, even though, loving you more, I be loved less" (2 Cor.12:15).
Love and sacrifice are thus intimately connected. It was by the sacrifice of His life upon the Cross that Jesus, the true Lamb of God, brought about our redemption. It will often be through sacrifice that we are called upon to exercise our love. Our Lady said at Fatima that the sacrifices asked of us would be the faithful fulfillment of our daily duties and the acceptance of the crosses that the Lord sends us. Nothing extraordinary is asked of us.
No one says it better than St. John in his first Epistle:
"In this has the love of God been shown in our case, that God has sent his only-begotten Son into the world that we may live through him. In this is the love, not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us, and sent his Son a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God has so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 Jn. 4: 9-11).