The Solemnity of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Our heart pumps about 100,000 times a day to keep life giving blood flowing through us. Because of this the heart is often considered representative of our very selves. We say, “I put my heart into it” or “I want that with all my heart” or “I sang my heart out!” The biblical reference to the heart implies the depth of our selves, that inner and vital place where we decide, among other things, for or against God. The heart is also a symbol for love. God, who speaks to us using our own experiences and ordinary and familiar things, uses the human heart as the symbol to represent Jesus’ life-giving love.
The heart of Jesus was a human heart like ours. It stopped beating the day he was crucified. According to the Gospel of John, after Jesus died a soldier made sure of his death by piercing his side with a lance. Blood and water poured out (John 19:34). Jesus had said that out of his heart would flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). The water from the side of Christ on the cross was the water of salvation.
Jesus’ pierced heart became a symbol of the completeness of his love for us, a love that enabled him to die for us; to not only give up his life but give his life to us, to remain with us. The heart of Jesus, human and divine, is the symbol of his total self-giving and life-giving love.
In art the Sacred Heart is pierced, surmounted by a cross, and encircled with thorns. Light radiates from it to show that it is a burning furnace of love—a love that will not be quenched. The Sacred Heart of Jesus artfully summarizes the paschal mystery—his passion, death and resurrection which was fueled by divine love.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart began in the twelfth century. Saints such as Bonaventure, Gertrude, Catherine of Siena, and John Eudes were attracted to the Sacred Heart. It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a sister in France, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the support of St. Claude de la Colombiere. Margaret Mary had visions of the Sacred Heart from 1673 to 1675. In one of the visions, occurring within the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood Christ), Christ showed her his wounded heart. He said, “Behold this heart burning with so great a love for man.” In 1856 a feast in honor of the Sacred Heart was declared for the universal Church to be observed on the Friday after Corpus Christi and later, in 1899, Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart focuses not only on the love and mercy Jesus has for us but on reparation for sin. In St. Margaret Mary’s visions Christ requested that a Communion of reparation be made on the first Friday of every month. Today, there are many organizations who further the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus; together we pray that our hearts may become like his—self-giving; life-giving.