The opening prayer for the votive Mass for The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus goes, “Clothe us, Lord God, with the virtues of the Heart of your Son and set us aflame with his love, that, conformed to his image, we may merit a share in eternal redemption.” Look at all that is being asked in this prayer, we are asking God to give us what we need to become saints, meriting a share in eternal redemption.
The words, “set us aflame with his love” really stuck with me as I said the opening prayer. We are not simply asking that we become more loving, but to have a love that has as its source the love that flows from Christ. These words are a prayer to live out what Christ himself has asked of us when he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34 RSV)
This is a love that all of us need to see, to receive, and to give. Too many times we see examples of the opposite in our culture. We see it in the news, in politics, on social media, the workplace, you name it. It seems we have gone from having constructive opinions to feeling justified sometimes to have hatred for someone. Christ even addressed the hatred of those we consider enemies when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:43-44) Elsewhere he says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32 RSV)
By asking to be set aflame with the love of Christ, we are asking to have the strength to love even when it is the most difficult. To love like Christ has loved us is to become selfless just like him. When we start seeking this, we are another step closer in our growth in holiness, in being a lover of God by loving others as he has loved us.