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Jesus can heal our broken hearts

Not all wounds are visible, and injuries to the heart cut deeper than those of the flesh, writes Fr Michael Kane.

Last Saturday I celebrated a Mass for the Sick in our parish, which also included the Sacrament of Anointing.

These are always very special occasions, when many of our sick and housebound parishioners make the extra effort to come to Church and to ask for the Lord’s strength and healing.

Naturally, most people are there to ask God to grant them relief from physical burdens and ailments.

 

Speaking to God

Yet, such a Mass is also an opportunity to speak to God of the other, less visible wounds that can be equally as debilitating.

In the homily of the Mass I focused on an image which the Church places before us during this month of June: the image of the Sacred Heart.

We have a huge Sacred Heart statue in our Church which is the focus of much prayer, not least because Jesus has arms outstretched in an open gesture of embrace.

 

Heart of Jesus

In that statue we also see the exposed heart of Jesus, a heart which overflows with generous and all-consuming love for us.

This is the Sacred, divine Heart whose blood was poured out in loving sacrifice for all of us.

It’s an emotive image, one that reminders of the closeness, care and intimacy of Jesus. It speaks of a love which holds nothing back. His heart beats for love of you and me. It carries within it a tremendous and personal concern for each one of us.

But June is not only a time to consider the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Lord wants us also to be self-reflective, and to look at the condition of our own hearts—not that this requires a visit to the GP!

Here, I’m thinking of a different kind of health check: an interior and spiritual health check.

 

Human heart

If the human heart is the seat of all our love and affection, the centre of our emotions, good and bad, then it’s good for us to examine what is in my heart at this moment? And this requires real honesty with God. We cannot hide from God what we carry in our hearts.

When we gather for a Mass of the Sick, and to receive the Sacrament of holy anointing, we are always invited to open the doors of our hearts and invite Jesus in to that place.

We need to ask Jesus to touch and soothe and anoint the wounds of our hearts, as well as our other illnesses of mind or body. This is an important point which sometimes can be lost. The Sacraments are given to us for both physical and spiritual healing.

 

Difficult to heal

In my short time as a priest, I have met many more people with a broken heart than with a broken bone.

And I have come to realise that the heart is much more difficult to heal.

If you fall it may take weeks, perhaps months, for a broken bone to heal. Time heals those things. Very little effort is required. The recovery largely takes care of itself.

But if you are wounded in the core of your being, then that takes so much longer to repair. Those wounds are not carried in our body but in our hearts.

 

Burden

Here I’m thinking of bereavement or a broken marriage or a lack of Faith. I’m thinking also of the cross of depression or anxiety, family worries or struggles with addiction, and a thousand more heavy burdens besides.

Healing of these sorts of wounds is much more complicated. And it doesn’t just happen automatically. Time will not simply heal these ailments. We need to want it and desire it and go in search of it.

We need to ask for it from God’s hands, continually, every day.

If we want that kind of healing for ourselves we need to be open and honest with God and ask: what do I carry in my heart today? First, what are the graces and blessings that live in my heart?

 

Fixing the broken

Now we need to ask the more difficult question: what is broken within me? This is always between me and God, so we need to be honest with Him. We can’t hide what’s in our heart.

What causes me pain and anger? What is broken and in need of God’s healing touch?

What continually robs me of my peace? What are my insecurities and my worries? What are the things I struggle to accept from God’s hands? Where is there darkness in my heart?

As Christians we must open and expose our heart to God’s love and his light, and to ask Jesus to heal us in the way that he knows best. Each day we need to invite the Lord to anoint our wounds and to bandage up the soreness of our heart? This needs to become a part of our daily prayer.

 

Mass for the Sick

The Mass for the Sick last Saturday was a great moment of healing for so many. For some I firmly believe that healing will come in the form of physical relief in the body.

For others, I suspect the healing will be less visible to human eyes. Jesus knows that for so many of us it is better to begin at the core, with the heart, and with the wounds that live in that hidden place.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You!

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