February 14 th, 2018 is a day when Catholics everywhere will struggle to make sense of the fact that the holiday famous for chocolate is competing with the holy day of fasting.
Maybe, rather than a sick joke against all lovers of cocoa, this is a divine conspiracy to teach us the true meaning of love.
That sounds like something God would be invested in, given His track record. Why do we need to be taught about love’s true meaning? Because sometimes, things get thorny.
“Those sown among thorns…are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.”
These thorns are pervasive in our culture, and they are sneaky! When we’ve grown up surrounded by thorns, we can easily fail to see that they shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Thorns can look like putting work, study or sports ahead of Mass or skipping prayer time, but spending time an hour or two on Netflix.
Other thorns wound us when we shape our self worth based on how much money we earn, the titles we have, or the admiration of other people.
These thorns choke us by keeping us trapped by things that won’t satisfy us, and away from the One who will.
So what does Jesus do with these thorns?
He humbles Himself and receives them upon His head.
The crown of thorns was the Roman soldiers’ attempt to humiliate and mock Jesus, twisting His claim to kingship. And yet every time we sin, are we not doing the same?
Failing to recognize the supreme goodness of Jesus is like adding another thorn to His crown.
The Heart Of Jesus
The great mystery is that He bore this suffering and humiliation from us, for us.
Through His infinite wisdom and mercy, in an all out effort to free us from our self-imposed prisons, He took every thorn, and wrapped them around His heart so that we would see our true desire through the thorns of false desires.
Repentance is seeing the heart through the thorns and realizing that they are there because of our choices.
It’s rending our own hearts in contrition and making the choice to put Him first.
When we do this, we are washed again in the blood and water, and there flows the flood of mercy and grace that pours forth from His Heart.
In this way, He continues to pursue His Bride, the Church. It says in Scripture,
“That he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
We are invited this Wednesday to receive as our valentine, the beautiful heart of Jesus.
We can remove the thorns and return the humble offering of your own repentant hearts. Ask yourself:
What thorns in my life are keeping me from fully receiving His heart? How does He want to help me clear those out in this season of Lent?
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that over chocolate any day!