It is the loving heart of Jesus Christ that calls us to follow him to be his disciples. The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which this year is on Friday 8th June, is a reminder of Jesus’ humanity, and how he cares for us with all the emotions – joys and sorrows, that we too experience in our lives. He wants us to follow him, and lead others who don’t yet know him, or have forgotten him, to experience his tender love, and the love of our heavenly Father. When Jesus calls us to follow him, we can be sure that he is not beyond our reach, indeed he reaches out to us with a warm embrace.
For some people in our world, whether far away or close by, that loving expression of being surrounded by caring arms has perhaps been long forgotten, or was never there. Loneliness is a particular problem in our modern society, with over 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK (Age UK, 2016). But it’s not just the elderly who feel alone: the report ‘It Starts with Hello’ (Action for Children, 2017) found that young children, adolescents including college students, and parents - especially with young children, can also experience frequent or sustained periods of loneliness.
As followers of Christ, indeed brothers and sisters of Jesus through baptism, we are to bring his loving embrace to those we meet. The Spirit of Pentecost urges us to open our hearts to those in need, and through our practical, social action share the love of Jesus, and indeed lead others to know Jesus more fully in whose Sacred Heart they will find the fullest expression of love.
Across the parishes in Westminster Diocese, willing volunteers are helping to bring lonely people together. Caritas Westminster through its North London Hub, and the Parish of Mary Immaculate and St Gregory in Barnet, has set up a ‘Contact the Elderly group’. The group provides older isolated people with friendship and company. For more information on this and other projects see the Caritas website www.caritaswestminster.org.uk
Evangelisation is not just a word that describes a process by which we help others to come to know about Christ. It is also that deep sense of relationship, that loving, caring friendship which brings Jesus into our lives and the lives of others in a very human way, and through which we enter into his divine life. Through our words and actions we are to proclaim constantly that, as Pope Francis reminds us. “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”
Deacon Adrian Cullen