Excerpt 12
Heart of Jesus, Propitiation for Our Sins

ST. JOHN, the beloved disciple, gave us the words of the above invocation, "My children, these things I write to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just; and He is a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only, but for those of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:1 f.). St. John returns to the same idea in the fourth chapter of the same epistle, when he speaks of the great love of God, Who has loved us first and "sent His Son, a propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:10). The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the propitiation for our sins because He restored to the Father the honor which men had refused to render, paid our debts, and merited for us the Father's friendship and adoption as sons.
Honor Restored

God, our Creator, Lord, and Father, surely deserves honor, and He has made the fact known in the Ten Commandments. Observance of the commandments honors Him. Yet men refused to give God this honor, and by way of punishment God allowed them to fall into idolatry. This was a most shameful degradation of man, since it gave the honor due to the one true God to gods and goddesses of his own making. The progress of civilization, it is true, has done away with crass idolatry among the vast majority of men, but it has not brought mankind back to the worship of God. Now a subtle, disguised idolatry has stepped into the place of the ancient worship of gods; it is the idolatry of race and nationality, of wealth and power, of pleasure and unrestrained liberty. Never before in the history of the world, have we witnessed as in our days such deification of men who, according to Christian standards, are criminals and moral outlaws. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the propitiation for all this dishonor offered to God. His whole life, His teachings, His miracles, His sufferings have for their object the honor of the Father. "I have glorified Thee on earth; I have accomplished the work that Thou hast given Me to do" (Jn. 17:4). And since Jesus is God, the honor He renders to the Father is of infinite value, making full and adequate reparation for the dishonor of sin.

Debts Paid

Stronger than any human claims upon the services of other men are the claims which God has upon our service, since all we are and possess belongs to Him. By our very nature we are the servants of God, bound to use the gifts which He has bestowed upon us according to His will. However, we have not done this. We have rendered service to the prince of this world and made ourselves his slaves; our time and God-given faculties have been squandered and the gifts of God abused. We contracted an immense debt in this way, a debt so great that we could never have paid it by ourselves. But the loving Heart of our Redeemer became our propitiation by paying this debt in our place. According to the prophet Isaias He was the great servant of God. Jesus Himself declared, "I have come down from Heaven, not to do My Own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me" (Jn. 6: 38). And St. Paul writes of Jesus, "He emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of Man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to death on a Cross" (Phil. 2:7 f.). Jesus rendered service to make up for our failure. He served in poverty and humility, in His teaching and miracles, in His agony and death. Thus our injustices were rectified, our debts paid, and right order restored.

Friendship and Adoption

By nature we were children of wrath; through Jesus we have again become the children of God's love. As holy Church sings in the Easter Sequence, "The Lamb has reconciled sinners to the Father." Through the propitiation rendered by Christ we have again been made partakers in the Divine life, and endowed with the most precious Divine gifts. What was hidden from the beginning and unknown to our first parents, even in their original innocence, has been revealed to us. Through the mysteries of faith we have been introduced into the family secrets of God. And yet, wonderful as the light of faith is, compared to the darkness of paganism, it is but shadow compared to the light of glory that awaits us in Heaven.

The yearning of the human heart for God and family and home and friendship has been satisfied. God is again the beloved Father of His children, and the closer they come to Him the closer they come to one another, the more they love one another. What a difference between the cold and selfish spirit of the world and the warm and cheering spirit of love that animates the children of God. But no matter how generous and blissful this mutual love may be, as long as we are in this life human imperfections and shortcomings will enter into our mutual relations. The full fruits of our Saviour's propitiation, the perfect blossoming forth of the love of the children of God, is reserved for the life to come. Then our Saviour's prayer will come true: "And the glory that Thou hast given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are One. I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and that Thou hast loved them, even as Thou hast loved Me" (Jn. 17:22 ff.).

Where sin abounded mercy has abounded more. When at last faith shall be changed into vision, hope into possession, and love has entered its final and beatific stage, then we shall sing the mercies of God forever and ever. This is full reparation of all that was wrong, restoration of all that was lost, bestowal of gifts never thought of, propitiation beyond measure, and we owe it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.



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