Pastor’s Corner for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

On Friday the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Above all, this is a celebration of the love of God for his people, a visible sign of his compassionate heart. In the gospel of the solemnity, taken from Matthew, we see that compassion in action when Jesus calls to us in these words, “Come to me, all who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” This heart of Jesus wants nothing more than to embrace us in its care.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The prayer of the Church venerates and honours the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins.” (CCC 2669)


The foundation for the Sacred Heart devotion began in early Christianity. Sacred Scripture, particularly the New Testament, mentions the love of God many times, and the Church Fathers discuss God’s love as well.

In the eleventh century, Christians often meditated on the Five Wounds of Jesus, and the specific devotion to the Sacred Heart came from this meditation. St. Gertrude the Great, who had private revelations regarding the Sacred Heart, helped further the understanding of Jesus’ Sacred Heart in the late 13th-century.


Several centuries later, in 1670, St. John Eudes celebrated the first Feast of the Sacred Heart. In 1673, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Visitation nun, received her own revelations, in which Jesus explained His love for all people, even allowing St. Margaret to lay her head on His Heart, as He had also allowed St. Gertrude to do. He asked that Catholics receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays of the month and adore Him in the Holy Eucharist.

In 1675, Jesus told St. Margaret that He wanted an annual feast in honour of His Sacred Heart. In 1856, Blessed Pope Pius IX designated that the Feast of the Sacred Heart would be celebrated universally on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave each year.


As fascinating as the history of the Sacred Heart may be, we need to reflect on its future. How do we as individuals and as a community live out that calling to compassionate love we see modelled in the Sacred Heart? How do we honour the Sacred Heart of Jesus today? One of the practical ways in which we do it is through our Caritas forum, where we try and put love into action through ministry to the poor and homeless, to migrants and refugees and caring for our common home, the earth. Another way, possibly a more spiritual way, is through the Sodality of the Sacred Heart here in the parish. Their focus is a deepening appreciation of and relationship with Jesus in the form of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


I invite you to experience the loving and compassionate Sacred Heart of Jesus both through serving him in the bodily needs of our brothers and sisters, and through encountering him more prayerfully by joining the Sodality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.



Fr. Bruce Botha SJ