It is difficult to limit myself to a few paragraphs when it comes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a Catholic, as a Christian, He is my Savior and Lord. As a woman wholly consecrated to Him, He is my Spouse and my greatest love, the most ardent desire of my heart. So, of all the ideas to share today, I will start with a beautiful painting by a French artist, Georges Desvallières, painted in 1905, titled Le Sacré Cœur.
It pictures Jesus with His wounds, hands gripping the edges of the wound which pierced His heart, pulling it open. His thorn-crowned head is bent, eyes closed, and He leans slightly forward, inviting. This painting speaks to me. It is as if Jesus is saying, “Look into my heart. See my love. What more can I do for you to understand my love for you?” To me, this image summarizes the reason for His life, death, and resurrection: me. You. All of us.
Loving with a Human Heart
This revealing of His heart to us is something He longs for. He wants us to know Him as God made man- one of us. A Church Document entitled Gaudium et Spes says it beautifully:
“He who is the ‘image of the invisible God’ [Col 1:15], is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also, to a dignity beyond compare. For by his incarnation, he, the son of God, has in a certain way, united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things but sin.” (Gaudium et Spes #22)
“With a human heart he loved.” The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a reminder of this. The divine love of God manifests itself to us through Christ’s humanity. One option for the preface used in today’s mass is called “The Boundless Charity of Christ,” and one phrase always strikes me. It says, “won over to the open side of the Savior…” He opens His heart to us to win us over. I hope that I never lose perspective on the reality of my salvation.
The Freedom of Love
In being redeemed by Christ, it wasn’t the case for any of us that we were alone, realized we were alone and needed help, and looked around and found Jesus whom we then asked to save us. On the contrary, it was He who waited for us to realize He was there.
The reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans today reinforces that. “But God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God has had His eye on us from our beginning, has loved us first, has loved us into existence. He wants us, He chooses us (Jn. 15:16), and the moment we start to realize this is the moment we “find” Him – right at our side. We learn of His great love for us most often when it is manifested in His mercy, but His love has always been there.
Our love can change; it can increase or decrease. His love is constant and unchanging, always at its height and never decreasing. To be confronted with this mystery that His love cannot be earned, is never revoked, that the one in control of accepting or rejecting is me, it can be frightening. His love – offered to the extreme of letting His physical heart be pierced – is our ultimate freedom and His ultimate vulnerability.
Finally, I can choose to close my heart to His love through sin. I can choose to reject His love by remaining in that sin. That can be my choice. Yet at any moment I can choose to accept His love. To be true, love must be free. He wants my free love, and so He risks everything and makes Himself vulnerable to rejection for my love and for love of me.
May we always turn toward His love!