The Sacred Heart of Jesus

There is in the Sacred Heart the symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return. – Pope Leo XIII

Can you pick just one thing that is great about being Catholic? Definitely, the fact that Jesus is present to us body, blood, soul and divinity at every Mass and we can spend time with him physically present in Adoration have to be at the top of the list. But there are some other things which are pretty great about being part of the family of the Church which is known for “both…and…”. There is room under the Catholic roof for loud praise and worship and silent, reverent devotion. We can attend Mass in the language we speak and in the ancient language of the Church. Some of us are called to proclaim the kingdom by working in the world and being a Christ to those we meet outside of the Church and some of us are called to spend our lives working within the Church helping each one become more like Jesus. Under the Catholic roof is some of the most incredible artwork ever created by man and kitschy plastic St. Christophers for on the dash of your car. Not only is there room for both, but we also NEED both!

Our God is incarnational. He took on our flesh, our matter and in doing so, He sanctified all creation. The very physicality of the created world is now capable of pointing us to God and leading us to holiness. 

For those of us who have been around for a while, we don’t even blink an eye or do a double take at the sight of an icon of Jesus with his heart on the outside of his body. Not only is his bloody heart exposed, but it is also wrapped in thorns and on fire! Yikes! But we understand the role of icons. Icons are art which points to something beyond itself. (Sounds pretty close to the definition of a sacrament doesn’t it? There is a pattern here.) 

So for today, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I invite you to look and really see the icon of the Sacred Heart. As you do, look to the revelation of God’s nature that we are given through the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading. 

Thus says the Lord:

I myself will look after
I will tend
I will rescue
I will lead
I will bring them back
I will pasture
I myself will give them rest
I will seek out
I will bind up
I will heal 

In every age and culture, the heart can be found as a symbol of love and affection. Jesus came as one of us and took that symbol further. He came to show us that love is not just cute cupids. Love is not just when times are good and we feel all emotional. True love is a total gift of self. It is set aside for a purpose and is precious. Love pierces our souls as surely as a thorn pierces flesh. It opens us to something deeper than ourselves and wider than our own interests. Love is a fire which burns but does not consume. It is the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us from our selfish innermost ways. When we give ourselves over to that, when we can give our whole heart without counting the cost, then we are most fulfilled. 

Paradoxical? Yes. 

Wonderful? Absolutely.

Worth it? Without a doubt. 

So gaze upon Jesus’s exposed heart and ask him on this day, and every day, to convert your heart to be just like his; open to all, courageous enough to bear the thorns and on fire with the Holy Spirit.

Contact the author

If you catch Sheryl sitting still, you are most likely to find her nose stuck in a book. It may be studying with her husband, Tom as he goes through Diaconate Formation,  trying to stay one step ahead of her 5th and 6th-grade students at St Rose of Lima Catholic School or figuring out a new knitting or quilting pattern. Since every time she thinks she gets life all figured out, she realizes just how far she has to go, St. Rita of Cascia is her go-to Saint for intercession and help. Home includes Brea, a Bernese Mountain dog, and Carlyn, a very, very goofy Golden Retriever.