Sunday, June 21, 2015

Held by Bands of Love

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The feast of the Sacred Heart this year coincides with the celebration of the Philippines Independence day. As usual, this day glorifies the most valued of all modern day values…which is human freedom. Our present concept of freedoms means unbridled liberty from any control or authority. Thus, we value our right to self-determination because the only authority which most of us are willing to recognize would be our own selves. Nobody tells me what to do. Anyone who attempts to control me is understood to be an oppressor. I decide to what I want.

But the prophet Hosea tells us today: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love…” The Lord today spoke of “bands of love”. In tagalog. A band is “tali” or “pamigkis” which is easily interpreted as a restraint to freedom. Ang nakatali ay tila hindi malaya dahil napipigil o nasusupil ang kalayaang gumalaw. And yet, it is by means of a band or restraint that a child is taught to walk. The father holds the child up through such bands in order to train his legs for walking. In the beginning, the child’s movements seem restrained, but the bands keep the child from falling and support the child until his legs are able to hold up his entire weight. The Lord draws us with human cords, with bands of love. It is when we allow ourselves to be supported by such bands of love, it is then that we are most free to walk.  

God’s bands of love keep us truly free. When we free ourselves of any attachment to God, it is then that we become slaves…slaves to ourselves, slaves to the world, slaves to Satan himself. It is Christ who sets us free from the greatest oppression of all, and that oppression is called sin. By freely accepting suffering and death on the Cross, the Lord Jesus has overcome for us our greatest slavery: the slavery to the devil…the slavery to sin. By the Blood and Water which flowed from his wounded Heart, the Lord Jesus has ransomed us from the devil. He has redeemed us by his Blood. “If the Son has freed you, then you are truly free.”

When we allow ourselves to be bound to the Lord by his bands of love, we become free to be who we were created to be: we begin to possess the freedom of the children of God. This is what it means to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: we bind ourselves to him. We declare that we desire to belong to him. We declare that we choose to conform our lives to his will. Just as a wife binds herself to her husband in love, so do we bind ourselves to Christ whom we know loves us. And we can entrust ourselves to his love which is always reliable. We know fully well that those who trust the Lord will never be abandoned and will never perish. Christ draws us to himself with human cords…with the cords of his Sacred Heart. Let us confidently abandon ourselves to him. Let us choose to belong to him and say: Sweetly we’ll rest on thy Sacred Heart. Never from thee, oh let us part. Hear then thy loving children’s pray’r: O Heart of Jesus, Heart of Jesus hear!

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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