Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Sacred Heart

Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Le Sacré-Coeur/The Sacred Heart 1910
Drawing - pastel on buff paper Height: 60 cm (23.62 in.), Width: 46.5 cm (18.31 in.)
Musee d'Orsay, Paris

“In the Creed we profess: "For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man".

Here we more directly touch upon the reality of the Heart of Jesus. For the heart is a human organ, belonging to the body, belonging to the whole structure, to the spiritual and physical makeup of man: "And the Word was made flesh".

In this make-up the heart has its place as an organ. At the same time it has a meaning as the symbolic centre of the inner self, and this inner self is, by nature, spiritual.

The Heart of Jesus was conceived beneath the heart of the Virgin Mother, and its earthly life ceased at the moment Jesus died on the Cross. This is testified to by the Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus with a lance.

During the whole of Jesus’ earthly life, this Heart was the centre in which was manifested, in a human way, the love of God: the love of God the Son, and, through the Son, the love of God the Father.

What constitutes the greatest fruit of this love in creation?

We read it in the Gospel: "He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him. But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God . . ." (Io. 1, 11-12).

Here is the most magnificent, the most profound gift of the Heart of Jesus that we find in creation: man born of God, man adopted as a son in the Eternal Son, humanity given the power to become children of God.

And therefore our human heart "transformed" in this way can say and does say to the Divine Heart what we hear in today’s liturgy:

"My soul, give thanks to the Lord, / and never forget all his blessings. / It is he who forgives all your guilt, / who heals every one of your ills, / who redeems your life from the grave, / who crowns you with love and compassion. / The Lord is compassion and love, / slow to anger and rich in mercy" (Ps. 103 (102), 2-4. 8).

These are the words of the Psalm in which the Old Testament speaks of the mystery of God’s love. How much more do the Gospels tell us of the divine Heart of the Son - and indirectly of the Heart of the Father:

Heart of Jesus, abode of justice and love!
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful!
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness!

Finally we can repeat with Isaiah that those who hope in the divine Heart "renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles. They run and do not grow weary, walk and never tire" (Is. 40, 31). "

[From the Homily of Pope John Paul II at the Mass dedicated to the Heart of Christ Abbotsford Airport (Vancouver) on Tuesday, 18 September 1984:
See here ]