We so often uses phrases such as:  “She has a broken heart.”  “He is all heart.”  “She spoke with such heartfelt words.”   When we use such phrases we are not referring to the physical organ of a person but to a person’s loving values, attitudes, and dispositions. So on this feast of the Sacred Heart, we are pointing to the loving values, attitudes, and dispositions of the Risen Lord as he relates to us.  The gospel today gives us a glimpse into the heart of Christ.

Jesus is using a favorite teaching tool—a parable.  He talks about a real life situation and then transposes the reaction onto God.  We all know how we behave when we lose our keys. Even though the car is still in the garage, the refrigerator is full, the sun is shining, and the children are happily playing, we have one focus: finding the keys.  We turn everything upside down in our search.  And once found, we rejoice.

So our God, the Good Shepherd, searches everywhere to find that person who has separated himself from God’s love and protection. This is so clearly portrayed in Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven.”  God pursues the lost soul will all God’s energy. The feast of the Sacred Heart is the feast of the Love of God for all men and women, both those close to him and those who try to keep their distance.

—Fr. Douglas Leonhardt, S.J. is associate vice-president for Mission and Ministry at Marquette University where he is also pastoral minister for the College of Education and McCabe Residence Hall.