By Rev. James Kubicki, SJ
Here is the full text of June’s prayer intention: “That every national and international institution may strive to guarantee respect for human life from conception to natural death.”
What does Jesus feel?
The special significance of this intention appearing in June is that this month is traditionally dedicated to honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He didn’t say it directly, but Pope Benedict implied that respect for the right to life of all human beings is an intention very close to the Heart of Jesus. Jesus cares especially for the most helpless among us, and the pope is asking us to do the same. What does Jesus think and feel as He looks out over the world today? We believe that His Heart is particularly wounded by the scourge of abortion. We believe His Heart is broken by all the sins against life.
As Christians, we strive to know the thoughts and feelings of Jesus’ Heart so we can imitate and act upon them. Let’s look more deeply into the Heart of Jesus.
The Bible speaks of a person’s heart as far more than just a muscle that pumps blood. Even in popular use, the word heart often refers to the deepest interior of a person—the place where his or her values and attitudes, thoughts and plans, are formed. Scripture also speaks of sin in terms of “a hard heart.” The prophet Ezekiel addressed the word of God to the Israelites, declaring, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts” (36:26). God fulfilled this promise in His own Son, Jesus, Who reveals that the Heart of God is filled with a love that is willing to give all for the good of humanity. In giving us forgiveness and new life, Jesus also gives us a new heart, one like His that is open to the workings of the Holy Spirit. We also have a heart, like His, that is wounded and broken by the sins against life.
Can Jesus still suffer?
Jesus is risen and in glory. How can we say His Heart is wounded and broken by the sins against life? Can Jesus still suffer? Saint Paul explains this mystery by declaring that we are the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). Jesus is the Head and we are the Body. Just as we are intimately connected to the power and joy of Jesus, Jesus is intimately connected to the weakness and sorrow of His Body. Paul says, “If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Jesus, the Head of the Body, continues to suffer with us and in us as we suffer for the brutal dismemberment of the little ones. Fully human and fully divine, Jesus feels our pain with us, but with a divine intensity.
When we recognize the suffering that Jesus feels over abortion and enter more deeply into His sorrow—and when we share our suffering with Him—this shared suffering draws us closer to Him.
Consoling His Heart
Here’s something else that’s wonderful. Devotion to the Sacred Heart has traditionally involved consoling the Heart of Jesus. That amazing concept of consoling the Lord still holds true. We console Jesus by praying and by sharing His loving concern for victims of human ignorance and cruelty, those who are denied their right to life.
But it is not enough to unite our concerns to Jesus’ concerns. If we are praying according to the will of His Heart, our prayer should always lead us to action. Feelings and words are good, but they should lead us to work to remove that which causes sorrow to the Heart of Jesus. We commit ourselves to changing the wrongs that wound His Heart and our hearts. We commit ourselves to reparation, seeking to repair the damage that abortion and other sins against life have done to the Body of Christ and to the world.
The Apostleship of Prayer offers a simple yet profound way to pray for change in the hearts of our leaders and all people. Writing to the Christians in Rome, Saint Paul challenged them to live the Christian life by following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love. He wrote, “I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). This offering of our bodies and our entire selves can be made each morning upon rising. It can be done in our own words or in a set prayer. In the Apostleship of Prayer, we encourage people to make this offering with an awareness of the millions of other Christians who are making a similar offering on behalf of the pope’s intentions. Many people add a special prayer for the end of abortion, and in this way, they create a powerful prayer chain.
Thus, one day at a time, we recommit ourselves at the beginning of each day to pray and work to remove the wound of abortion from Jesus’ Heart. We pray too that healing may come to the hearts of all people wounded and suffering from the sin of abortion.
Daily offering prayer for life
God, our Father, I offer You my day.
I offer You my prayers, thoughts,
words, actions, joys, and sufferings
in union with Your Son Jesus.
I offer them for all the intentions of Jesus’ Heart.
His Heart grieves over sins against life.
He suffers with and for the victims of abortion.
May I share His suffering and offer myself today,
that hearts of stone may be converted.
I join my prayer with all those
who are also offering themselves to You today.
May our offerings build a culture of life.
Adapted from the article with the same title in the May-June 2010 issue of American Life League’s Celebrate Life and featured with the author’s permission. About the author: Rev. James Kubicki, SJ, is national director of the Apostleship of Prayer. Founded in France in 1844, its mission is to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord for the coming of God’s Kingdom and for the Holy Father’s monthly prayer intentions. Father Kubicki is also a popular speaker at retreats, conferences and parish missions, as well as a frequent guest on radio and TV shows. For more information about the simple yet profound way of life of the Apostleship of Prayer, go to www.apostleshipofprayer.org or call 414-486-1152.