From My Heart to God's Heart: A Meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus
In your Sacred Heart, Love speaks to love, as Heart speaks to heart, as God speaks to man.
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, O burning furnace of divine Love, you are the symbol and summary of the whole mystery of our Redemption. O mystery of mysteries, an infinite Love which no vessel can contain emptied itself into a finite human vessel of love-and so became the divine-and-human instrument for the redemption of mankind.
O mystery of mysteries, an infinite Love which no vessel can contain emptied itself into a finite human vessel of love-and so became the divine-and-human instrument for the redemption of mankind. In your Sacred Heart, Love speaks to love, as Heart speaks to heart, as God speaks to man.
Let me reflect on this Love symbolized by your Heart, that I may praise it, indeed, that I may adore it, and that others may learn of it and learn to love it.
Your Heart, O Jesus, is a living symbol, a beating, fleshly, and living icon, of the threefold love of the Incarnate Word. But your Heart, O God, is not an ordinary created symbol, like the icons we paint to focus our devotion or the words we use to speak of you. It is a symbol--which, caught up into the very bosom of the Godhead through its joinder in the Eternal Word--that we may adore, and in adoring that symbol, adore it as a visible sign of the divine Love, "which went so far as to love intensely, through the Heart of the Word made Flesh, the human race stained with so many sins." (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 104) This is the Heart we love, because this Heart loved us first. (cf. 1 John 4:19)
It is through that three-fold Love, at a point in history become both human and divine, that the Word came down to man and made his dwelling among us, and it is through that three-runged ladder of Love that we climb up to God, your Heart being a "sort of mystical ladder by which we mount to the embrace of 'God our Savior.'" (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 58). Indeed, your Heart my dear Jesus is a sort of mystical Jacob's ladder, by which Love both descends from God to man, and ascends from man to God. You are the Mediator that makes this possible.
Your Heart reveals, in a singular and unique human way, the Love eternally shared between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This infinite Love, we believe by faith, is not something that is reserved to the Trinity, for your human heart, dear Jesus, now participates, by virtue of its hypostatic union, in that uncreated, eternal and infinite Love. In that Heart, a Heart of both God and Man, a Heart formed by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary (our nature's solitary boast), dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Cf. Col. 2:9) This Heart of the God-Man Jesus, which participates in the very triune love of the Godhead, loves God and, what is more, loves mankind who is at the apex of all the rest of creation.
Your Heart is also symbol of the love of God which was infused in your human soul, which so entirely possessed you as man and infused you with the vision of God and perfect knowledge. And with this perfected love--perfected through the beatific vision, which we one day hope to enjoy--that you loved both God and man as man with supernatural efficacy. So it is that in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we may find all the treasures of natural and supernatural wisdom and of knowledge so far as it is allowed man to see.
Your Heart is finally a symbol of a purely human love, a sensible, passible love, the love you share with us and we with you. This is the love with which we are familiar, the everyday love between father and mother and child, the love between friends, though only yours is entirely pure and uncorrupted by any stain of egoism or selfishness or fickleness or infidelity. With this natural love, like ours in everything but sin (cf. Heb. 4:15), you loved both God and all mankind, perfectly fulfilling the commandments of the Lord.
All three of these loves join hands, as it were, in your Sacred Heart, redeeming us, rescuing us from our existential predicament, which is our apartness from you, indeed our state of enmity with you, our lack of integrity, our original sin inherited from Adam, and these three loves draw us into your intimate embrace, repairing the rift as only Love can do. Indeed, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in the three-fold embrace of your Sacred Heart. We were born to love; it is our vocation. And we were born to love Love.
It is through the Incarnate Word's passible love, that love as perceived by the senses and of which we read in the Scriptures, that love which we can see, that we get caught up in that love that we cannot see. From this sensible love, we climb to "to a consideration and adoration of the infused heavenly love," and from thence "by a movement of the soul at once sweet and sublime, to a reflection on, and adoration of, the divine love of the Word Incarnate." (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 104) Your Heart is therefore the gate of heaven which leads us into the house of God.
This was your design from of old. From "the infinite horizon" of your Love, you "wished to enter into the limits of human history and the human condition." You "took on a body and a heart. Thus, we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus, the Nazarene." (Benedict XVI, Angelus, June 1, 2008)
And what love is it that we see in your Heart, Jesus of Nazareth?
Since that marvelous event put into play by Mary's obedient fiat, yours is a Love O God which is no longer only impassible. From the time that you assumed human nature, your Love is both impassible and--scandalous to the Jew and Muslim and foolishness to the Greek philosopher--passible. You, God, love us through a human Heart, and so divinized that passible human love. So we may say that you God, through your Heart, suffered the entire gamut of worthy human emotion from grief to joy, but never in a disordered way. You had a Heart that loved and still loves Mary and loved and still loves Joseph, and loved and still loves your friends.
You had a Heart which when in Palestine had compassion on the hungry crowds, and the sick, the lame, the blind, the poor, the sinner, and the possessed, which desired to eat the Passover dinner with its friends, and which in its largesse forgave those who did you wrong. You had a heart which in Samaria beckoned to those in darkness.
Yours was a Heart which was able to suffer affliction, without bitterness or rancor, as it suffered grief at Jerusalem's rejection of your mission, pity for the short-sighted daughters of Jerusalem, agony at the Garden where you sweat blood, and the bitterness of betrayal when it experienced Judas's bitter kiss. It was a Heart that was livened when you roused in righteous anger against the moneychangers at the temple and overturned their tables and when you railed at pious hypocrites and whitened sepulchers. It was a Heart that pounded within your rib cage as if it would burst when you trudged the Via Dolorosa. During this terrible way of pain, your Heart, dear Jesus, was bruised for our iniquities.
It was a Heart which, we learned, by the witness of John your beloved, can break, can stop beating, as when you breathed your last and uttered the words, "It is finished." (John 19:30) And so this Heart, a Heart which was obedient unto death, which was a victim for our sins and a propitiation for our offenses, is our peace and reconciliation.
Indeed, it was a Heart that can suffer the insult of being pierced, as it was pierced by the lance of a Roman soldier. Your heart was physically wounded, O Lord, "so that through the visible wound we may behold the invisible wound of love." (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 87) That is why the Old Testament and the New say: "They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced." (Zach. 12:10; John 19:37)
And from that piercing, what a gift! From the wounded Heart of the Redeemer and out of His most blessed side was born the Church, the dispenser of the Water and Blood of the Redemption and from "whence flows that plentiful stream of Sacramental grace from which the children of the Church drink of eternal life." (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 76)
Yours is a wondrous Heart, one that did not undergo corruption (cf. Acts 13:37), but--mirabile dictu! Alleluia!--healed itself, became glorified, and started beating after a dark three-day hiatus in the cold of a rock tomb. This is something no other human heart has done. So it is that your Heart is our Life and Resurrection. For if your Heart had not started beating again, our faith would be in vain, and we would still be in our sins. (Cf. 1 Cor. 15:14, 17) From the point it beat again until the ages of ages, this noble Heart, this Lion of Judah's heart, "will never cease to beat with calm and imperturbable pulsations" of a Love that fails not. (Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 61)
But Heart of all hearts, I praise you in universal terms. Let me also praise you concretely, for your Heart always speaks Heart-to-heart, one-to-one, face-to-face: Cor ad cor loquitur, solus cum solo. With your divine and human Heart, you love me as if I had been made only for You.
Your Heart is my Shema Yisrael. Let me be an Israel to you, that you may see me as your adopted child, your adopted son, and call me out of the evils of Egypt. Draw me out with the cords of Adam, with the bonds of love. And heal my wounds that I might sprout up like a lily or become rooted like a cedar in Lebanon. (Cf. Pius XII, Haurietis aquas, 26).
And let me love you Sacred Heart, because you loved me first. (Cf. 1 John 4:19) There is, as Pope Leo XIII stated, in your Sacred Heart the "symbol and express image of the infinite Love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love" you and one another in return. (Leo XIII, Annum sacrum, 8) For if we love you how cannot we but love our neighbor? For if we say we love God but hate our neighbor, we are liars. (1 John 4:20)
And how do I love you, for I do not know how, and even if I did know how, I find myself unable?
I will love you by delivering myself to you entire, holding no part of me back. I will love you by consecrating myself to you, so that my life is wholly set apart for you. I will love you by placing my trust without reserve in you. I resolve to love you as you have loved me. I love you Lord, help my inability to love you! But let me not despair in my inability to love you. Remind me, O Heart of Jesus, that you are the salvation of those who hope in you.
Give me the grace to love you as you have loved me. Help me to learn that "I need nothing but God and to lose myself in the Heart of Jesus." (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque) Teach me that you are the fount of all life and all holiness, for you are the delight of all the Saints. Uproot from me any selfishness. Take my human love, weak as it is, and build upon it with your grace, and liken my heart to Mary's Immaculate Heart, which responded perfectly to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and so is our model response. Here I need your Love to love you. And I may be assured of it, for where I am weak, there you will make me strong. (Cf. 2 Cor. 12:10)
Let me love you in the Eucharist, which is where on earth I may find you physically closest to me. "O most sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, you are concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and you beat for us still. Now as then you said, Desidero desideravi--"With desire I have desired." I worship you, then, with all my best love and awe, with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will. O make my heart beat with your Heart. Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness. So fill it with you, that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it; but that in your love and your fear it may have peace." (John Henry Cardinal Newman)
Give me the grace to love with the three-fold love of your Heart, and so follow the three-fold commandment of Love, which summarizes the Law and the Prophets. Lend me your Heart that I may love the Lord God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind, and that I might love my neighbor as myself. (Cf. Luke 10:27) Give me a new heart and a new spirit, and take from me my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh not unlike yours. (Ez. 11:19) Remind me, O Heart of the Lord, that you are the vessel of righteousness and love, and the abyss of all virtues.
Give me the grace to make acts of reparation to your Sacred Heart, that you may be consoled for all those times men and women--and here I include myself, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa--have been forgetful of you, ungrateful to you, contemptuous of you, neglectful of you. Never let us forget, most sacred Heart of Jesus, that you are patient and rich in mercy, and that from your treasure house of mercy which is your Heart, you are full of largesse to all who call upon you.
In short, dear Jesus, meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like yours: fac cor meum secundum Cor tuum.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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