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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Quasimodo Sunday: The Heart of Christ's Mercy

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

A Sermon for Quasimodo Sunday based on the writings of Pope Benedict XVI

St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews tells us exactly what was the prayer of the Heart of Christ at the moment he took flesh in the Virgin's womb:

"When Christ came into the world, he said, 'Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure'. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God', as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" [1]

This is the first prayer of the Heart of Jesus, "substantially united to the Word of God." [2] The prayer of the Heart of Christ revealed in St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews resonates throughout the Fourth Gospel. In his book “Behold, the Pierced One,” then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:

"We could say that the Fourth Gospel draws us into that intimacy which Jesus reserved for those who were his friends" [3]

The Gospel of John, the Beloved Disciple, belongs, in a special sense, to the friends of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Sunday after Easter, traditionally nicknamed "Quasimodo Sunday," invites us in a particular way to the contemplation of the Sacred Heart. In the Gospel, [4] the Risen Christ stands before Thomas, inviting him to touch his wounded side. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:

"All of us are Thomas, unbelieving; but like him, all of us can touch the exposed Heart of Jesus... So, with our hands and eyes fixed upon this Heart, we can attain to the confession of faith: 'My Lord and my God!'" [5]

For Pope Benedict,

"...the entire Gospel testimony is unanimous that Jesus' words and deeds flowed from his most intimate communion with the Father; that he continually went 'into the hills' to pray in solitude after the burden of the day.” [6]

He notes that

"Luke, of all the Evangelists, lays stress on this feature. He shows that the essential events of Jesus' activity proceeded from the core of his personality and that this core was his dialogue with the Father." [7]

Pope Benedict XVI, writing in 1981 as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, challenges us to nothing less:

"In the Heart of Jesus, the center of Christianity is set before us. This Heart calls to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world." [8]

In the final analysis, one "impelled by the charity of Christ" [9] will have but one message, that of the pierced Heart revealing the love of the Father and "drawing all to himself." [10] One who has contemplated the message carved in the flesh of Jesus' side by the soldier's lance and learned to read it in Eucharistic adoration has but one language in which to speak to the world: the language of the Sacred Heart.

This is learned not in conferences, classrooms or books, but in silence and in the contemplation of the Pierced One. It is learned especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The language of the Sacred Heart encompasses a thousand local dialects, a million accents. Devotion to the Sacred Heart impels the Christian to an inventive charity, a charity ready to explore every dark and treacherous cave where the lost sheep have strayed. As we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Holy Mass and in our Eucharistic adoration, let us beseech the Sacred Heart for the conversion of sinners. Let us pray for the lost sheep.

V. Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost.

R. Have mercy on us.

V. Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven.

R. Have mercy on us.

V. Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee.

R. Have mercy on us.

[1] Hebrews 10:5-7.
[2] The Litany of the Sacred Heart.
[3] Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Behold the Pierced One (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 22.
[4] John 20:19-31.
[5] Ratzinger, Behold The Pierced One, 54.
[6] Ibid., 17; cf., Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:35, 39.
[7] Ibid.
[7] Ibid, 69.

[9] cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14.

[10] cf. John 12:32.


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