“The thoughts of His heart are to all generations to rescue them from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” This is the Introit for the Mass of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and I’ve always loved it as the opening salvo to the Feast and First Fridays. It speaks of the Heart of God being with us, holding us in ever-present consciousness, young and old, all of us, all generations, past and present. And that holding is about “rescuing us from death” and “keeping us alive in famine.” God’s heart knows where we are even when we don’t want to admit it.
This past year the images of the refugees have made this prayer so clear and intense for me. Young and old, male and female, families and singles, people on the move seeking rescue from death, hoping to stay alive in this time when they experience famine, perhaps from food, but also from the lack of home, hope, safety, tolerance, neighborliness. All of this is held in the Heart of God. And this is good and true, but it is not all that we are called to. We are to be that open heart that does something very concrete about these needs experienced in ourselves and especially in our brothers and sisters. It can seem frighteningly overwhelming and it can seem impossible to address. In this we can recognize our own need to be rescued from death and famine, from inadequacy and despair which may leave us feeling like we are dying yet we hunger for life and what feeds it. In this we can fall back upon the prayer above, knowing the thoughts of God’s heart are for all of us. We are to believe and act on our belief so that it lives in and through us.
Bonnie Kearney, RSCJ
Sculpture by James Michal Maher
Photograph by Linda Behrens