Learn from Me
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Apart from Jesus’ command to learn a lesson from the fig tree, on how its branch(es) and leaves announce summer (cf Matthew 24:32 and Mark 13:28), Christ commands us to learn only two things. Our Blessed Savior knows that, like the rich young man, we are lacking in these things … otherwise, He would not be compelled to call our attention to them.
Learning Mercy not Sacrifice
In Mercy not Sacrifice, a post we published earlier this year, we covered the first one of these: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'” We discovered that our mercy must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees or we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (cf Matthew 5:20). And, we examined what this kind of mercy looks like.
Learning from the Meek and Humble Heart of Jesus
Today, on this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we’ll look at the second one of these things Our Lord commands us to learn. In Matthew 11:29 He says, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” That “learn from me” covers many good and beautiful things Christ taught and modeled for us, things like The Lord’s Prayer, the evangelical virtues, love of God and neighbor, and so forth. But, what He specifically calls our attention to is His meekness and humility of heart. And, interestingly enough, He speaks to us of His humility only once!
Humility is truth. It is neither putting oneself down (false humility) nor elevating oneself. It is as St. Isaac the Syrian says, “the garment of God”…and we can clothe ourselves with nothing better. Christ, who is the way and the truth and the life, is humility personified, and we are exhorted by St. Paul to “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), the clothing of God’s eternal wedding feast. Humility draws God to us when He sees us adorned with this Christic royal attire.
Jesus is God and look what He has done for us! His heart is so good that He became man, taught us, put up with us (cf Matthew 17:17), and gave up His life in order to save us and give us eternal life with the Holy Trinity forever. Every Saturday evening at Vespers, the Church sings the Canticle of Christ’s humility, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at…he emptied and…humbled himself…” (cf Philippians 2:6-8). The Word became flesh and spent His life on earth emptying Himself: in His Incarnation and Birth, in His hidden life in Nazareth, before the crowds, before Peter and the Apostles, in His Passion and Death, and even in His glorious Resurrection.
In his Little Book on Humility and Patience, Archbishop William Ullathorne, a descendant of St. Thomas More, calls Christ the Master of humility, calls His Passion the book of humility and calls His Cross the throne of humility. Not to be outdone with how He humbly emptied Himself on earth, Jesus is still doing so today! As Father Francis Donnelly S.J. says in his book How to Love as Jesus Loves, “… in the Eucharist, He [empties] Himself of His humanity, it might be said, to become food and drink.” (This, of course, is a figure of speech because the Eucharist is always the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.)
Fr. Donnelly goes on to say that humility is the army of virtues and that all virtues practice it. In the great classroom of Christ, it is the daily virtue! This classroom is where Christ reveals his heart: a humble heart meek and poor in spirit that mourns, that hungers and thirsts for justice, is pure and merciful, makes peace and suffers persecution for the sake of God’s Kingdom, in short, a humble heart that enfleshes the beatitudes. It is the heart of someone who looks up to God because it is not proudly grasping to become like God, the heart of someone who is trustingly childlike not childish, which example Our Lord held up to us as the only type of heart that enters the Kingdom of Heaven (cf Matthew 18:3).
Today, we celebrate this humble and merciful heart of Jesus, the heart of God made manifest for us, that He might make of us what pleases Him and that we might have “the strength to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (cf Ephesians 3:18-19).
Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
Make our hearts like unto yours.
(From the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Art: Illustration of Sacred Heart of Jesus with stigmata and blessing gesture in the Latin rite; portal to the Sacred Heart Church in Bernau bei Berlin, Botulph, own work, May 2012, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; Sacred Heart Holy Card, undated, Jim Capaldi, 2009-09-24, PD-US copyright expired; both Wikimedia Commons.