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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart

This is the fifth installment in my series of reflections upon the Divine Praises. The previous reflections can be found here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

I begin my reflection upon the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus wondering why it is there that Jesus directs our devotion.

Certainly, Jesus’ entire body is holy. Yet, we don’t have a special devotion to his Sacred Arm or to his Sacred Mind. Perhaps, it is becuase the holy arm is a sign of God's power, might and wrath. If our devotion were to his Sacred Arm, we might only respond to Jesus in fear. Perhaps it because Jesus does not come in power, but rather meek and lowly. If our devotion were to His Sacred Mind, we might think that salvation is for only the wise. But Jesus comes to confound our world wisdom, to show us the wonder in what might otherwise be called foolishness.

I think it is because Jesus comes to us in love. At the dawn of creation, the Father spoke the word in love. Two thousand years ago, the Word of love took upon our flesh and entered the world. In our devotion to the Sacred Heart, Jesus’ love for all people – his mercy for all people is embodied and enfleshed.

The Heart of Jesus loves and shows us how to love. As Saint John says, God is love. We love because God loves us first. And so, just as Jesus comes to us with his Heart on fire in love for us, our hearts should be burning with love for him. We must be more than open minded, we must be open hearted. We must do more than tolerate our brother and sister, we must love them. In the many pictures of Jesus and his Sacred Heart, Jesus points us to his heart and reminds us that there is but one way of salvation – through his loving heart.

Jesus also comes to us with his wounded heart. A heart wounded for love of us. On the Cross, that his heart was pierced for our sins. For our transgressions, out of it flowed blood and water. By his wounds we have been healed. By this blood and water we have been washed clean.

Jesus’ heart is wounded because we so often fail to respond in love to him. In the Gospels, he compares himself to a mother hen seeking to gather her chicks. How he longs to gather us close to his chest, to comfort us with the loving beats of his heart. How he longs to offer us his forgiving heart. Yet, how often we close our ears to his voice, to the beating of his love.

Jesus’ wounded heart is also his resurrected heart. Pierced and wounded, yet forever beating and always full of life. Forever offering the blood and water of salvation that pour forth from his Sacred Heart.

Jesus comes to us with his human heart. A human heart filled with the glory of the divine. The heart of our brother, the heart of our Lord. Because it is a human heart, it must beat as a human heart. How fast his heart must beat in joy because of our love. Just as the Father's heart beat so quickly in anticipation when he saw his prodigal son return. How heavy it must beat in sorrow because of our sins as David's heart beat over the death of Absalom. How strong it must beat in pride at the sight of the saints who have become single hearted in love of him.

Pope Leo XIII consecrated the whole human race to the Sacred Heart. Though truly all of our hearts our made holy because they are joined with God through the heart of Jesus – his loving heart, his wounded heart, his human heart.

May our hearts always strive to beat with the heart of Jesus.

Jesus, I pray that you will break my stony heart and form in me a fleshy heart.
A heart full of love for God and neighbor.
A heart full of mercy to those in need.
A heart open to all the wonders of creation.
A heart like yours.


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