When we think about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, many times we enter into thoughts of sentimentality or emotions. True, it pretends to show the immense love of God for us in Jesus, but in a way the sentiments dominate that reality. The devotion comes to us from at least the middle ages, and much has been written and expressed in poetry and prose, almost always with a strong emotional orientation. In the same way, or perhaps even more so, this sentimentality has been expressed in paintings and drawings.
Emotions are good, and are certainly part of the human experience, but I believe we should not limit our focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus just to emotionality. The traditional renderings of the Sacred Heart, in pictures or paintings, show a figure of Christ with a “cutaway” view of the heart (sometimes with a flame on top). Reflecting a little on this, the figure is actually kind of grotesque. What is the heart? It is a muscle, a pump to circulate the blood through all of the body.
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Another way to think about the Sacred Heart is precisely that of making the “Life-blood” or the grace of God “circulate” among the members of His Body, which is the Church. In this case the Sacred Heart and devotion to Our Lord under this symbol becomes more dynamic. It also takes us “out” from within ourselves, and unites us more, in thought and prayer, with the Mystical Body of Christ. When we celebrate the Sacred Heart, we will want to be concerned for and pray for other people, those of our families, our friends, our Church group, and our neighbors, but we will also want to remember people we do not know so well, or perhaps not at all, and those with whom it is difficult for us to relate in a positive way.
Our human heart brings nutrients, oxygen, and other vital elements to the different parts of the body, but also retires wasteful and harmful elements, moving them away so that they do not cause damage or destruction. Does not the Sacred Heart of Jesus do something of this within our lives and within the Mystical Body of Christ?
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Reflecting on the Sacred Heart, we can also turn to the Gospel of John (19:34), where we learn that one of the soldiers opened the side of Jesus, who had just died, and immediately blood and water came out. On the one hand, this is proof that Jesus was truly dead, and on the other, the Church sees this as a symbol of the saving sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. There is no sentimentality in this image of the heart of Jesus. But from that heart flow life-giving graces, or rather those graces are projected dynamically to give strength and force to change people and the change society for the construction of the Reign of Christ, or a Reign of Joy and Life.
This reflection for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the patronal feast of the priests of Holy Cross, was written by Fr. Daniel Panchot, C.S.C. Fr. Daniel is a member of the District of Chile and serves as the Pastor of San Roque Parish and the Director of Postulants for the District.