By Teresa Tomeo
Many of you might not be old enough to remember the popular song, “What the World Needs Now is Love,” originally sung by Jackie De Shannon. The tune, along with the meaningful lyrics, kept running through my head recently as I was catching up on the latest news.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
The song was released way back in the mid-’60s during another turbulent time in our nation and world. It was the era that included the Vietnam War, the Detroit riots, and other conflicts that divided us. There were major and very troubling issues that needed to be addressed.
Fast forward some 55 years later, and we see that some of the very problems we had then are unfortunately still with us today. We’re still in need of love and not just any kind of love. The love of God the Father in our hearts and toward our fellow man is and always has been the only thing that there is too little of.
So maybe we need to go back in time. Let us start by going back merely two days ago to the Feast of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? Today, after all, is Father’s Day and if we’re looking for a way to spread God’s Fatherly love along with celebrating our own fathers, could there be any better way to begin this day than by contemplating the beautiful Sacred Heart of Christ?
Our Catholic faith teaches us that the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart stems from the visions of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 17th century France. It is associated to the blood and water that poured forth from the heart of Christ as he was dying on the cross. Nothing but pure, sacrificial love emanates from that holy image. It’s the Father of all fathers saying as we heard in the Gospel Reading on Friday, “come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Now let us step back into the time machine and go back even further to the end of the 19th century when Pope Leo XIII released his encyclical Annum Sacrum-On Consecration to the Sacred Heart. No wonder the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Think about the state of our world as you read what he had to say about the importance of reflecting on the love of God, as shown in His Sacred Heart.
“Such an act of consecration, since it can establish or draw tighter the bonds which naturally connect public affairs with God, gives to States a hope of better things. In these latter times especially, a policy has been followed which has resulted in a sort of wall being raised between the Church and civil society. In the constitution and administration of States the authority of sacred and divine law is utterly disregarded, with a view to the exclusion of religion from having any constant part in public life. This policy almost tends to the removal of the Christian faith from our midst, and, if that were possible, of the banishment of God Himself from the earth. When men’s minds are raised to such a height of insolent pride, what wonder is it that the greater part of the human race should have fallen into such disquiet of mind and be buffeted by waves so rough that no one is suffered to be free from anxiety and peril?”
It is no coincidence that Father’s Day falls so closely on the calendar to the Feast of the Sacred Heart, especially this year. And it is no coincidence that the circumstances facing the world back in 1899 referenced by Leo XIII were not that much different to what we are experiencing included, yes even, a plague or pandemic. We are still dealing with COVID-19. When Leo XIII released his encyclical, he mentions “a dangerous disease” as in the bubonic plague of the 1890s.
“Finally, there is one motive which We are unwilling to pass over in silence, personal to Ourselves it is true, but still good and weighty, which moves Us to undertake this celebration. God, the author of every good, not long ago preserved Our life by curing Us of a dangerous disease. We now wish, by this increase of the honor paid to the Sacred Heart, that the memory of this great mercy should be brought prominently forward, and Our gratitude be publicly acknowledged.”
We know, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). By contemplating more deeply and more often that precious and beautiful heart of Christ, we hopefully will become more like Him. We can then give the world exactly what it needs on Father’s Day and always as in the “love, sweet, love” of Jesus.
About the Author:
Teresa Tomeo is a bestselling author, including Conquering Coronavirus: How Faith can Put Your Fears to Rest (*Read our WINE review). She is a syndicated Catholic talk show host and speaker with more than thirty years of experience in print and broadcast media. Her weekday radio program, Catholic Connection, a co-production of Ave Maria Radio and EWTN, the global Catholic radio network, is heard daily on over 500 stations worldwide, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Her TV show, The Catholic View for Women, on EWTN.