Jesus' Sacred Heart: God's Call Towards Vulnerability
Warning: Some information in this article may be too graphical in nature for sensitive hearts.
Jesus' Message and Example
"For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also."(Jn 13:15) In a society where people protect their every thought from strangers and friends it is strange to find a revelation from God that asks us to follow Him in serving others and sharing our deepest wounds. Jesus' most Sacred Heart is a special devotion practiced by Roman Catholics throughout the world where He exposes His deepest concerns as He once did in the last supper, albeit now in a graphical manner to the whole world.
The Gospels teach us Jesus' immense love for us that He gave His life so we would be free from sin and could choose to follow in His footsteps without coercion. He gave us this gift knowing all the while many would deny such a gift.
The last event described before the removal of His body from the cross involved a soldier named Longinus who thrusts his lance at Jesus' Heart and all present saw how the very water and blood that were left in Him flowed to the last drop. St. John witnessing the event made sure to highlight this fact as accurate and true.
Why is the heart so important? There is a relationship that cannot be severed between the heart and the brain. Without the heart there is no food for thought. Without the brain there is no thought to order the heart to work. Could there be a link in the product of this relationship as well where thoughts and feelings are shared by both organs? Many doctors and other scientists agree that the brain generates the thoughts and feelings so the answer is not found here. What of the soul? Where does it lie? Is the soul the connecting link between heart and mind that drives so many to point to the heart when making a vow or declaring their deepest feelings?
The Heart's Power
Can the soul exert such an imprint in the body that it's very blood retains a signature of the soul's attributes? Many martyrs' hearts were removed while they still lived as was the case in the England of the 1550s when Queen Elizabeth sent to be hung, removed from the noose before dying then disemboweled alive and lastly quartered anyone who opposed her newly-formed church.
St. Edmund Campion's life and death testimony showed how his heart touched many. He was to Queen Elizabeth what St. Thomas Moore was to Henry VIII, loyal subjects of the crown whose religious beliefs differed from their sovereigns. As St. Edmund was tortured before death his blood spilled unto the witnessing crowd and touched a man, Henry Walpole, who instantly gained courage and followed in St. Edmund's footsteps; first as a Jesuit priest, then as martyr. St. Edmund's very blood caused a change on another.
The Head: The Seat of the Soul
Diverse people throughout the world believe the soul lies mostly on a person's head. St. Teresa of Avila, in 1579 Spain, echoed this belief in her fourth mansion of Interior Castle chapter one whilst her incessant headaches tortured her, "My head sounds as if it were full of... a host of little birds (that) seem to be whistling, not in the ears, but in the upper part of the head, where the higher part of the soul is said to be; I have held this view for a long time, for the spirit seems to move upward with great velocity."
Many martyrs had their heads severed from their bodies. One interesting case is St. Dennis the great French bishop whose head was cut by druid priests and as the Christians waited sadly their demise the bishop's body rose, picked up his head and walked two miles downhill to where they were. Preaching all the while he was heard to say, "the first step is the hardest." Indeed.
From the moment Jesus reveals His innermost thoughts and emotions, as is the case of Lazarus whom He weeps for before raising him from the dead, to the relationship Jesus has throughout Church history with outstanding people that commiserate Jesus' sufferings in private revelations, we are privy to God's own Son's feelings and ideas that pertain to us and our relationship with Him. He allows us a window into His inner self: a most vulnerable place.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received circa 1672 in France a graphical view of Jesus' innermost secret place. He asked that what she was witnessing be spread and not just to a chosen few. What did she see?
For most people today a picture of the Sacred Heart shows a rendition of a bearded man dressed in white and red garments. His left hand points to His heart that bursts forth out of His chest. There is no movement on a prayer card or painting. St. Margaret Mary did not see a prayer card before her. She saw a living man with an exposed heart palpitating, a heart crowned by a cross engulfed in flames that do not consume the wood.
What must have been horrendous to watch was that this heart was surrounded with thorns. As the heart contracted the thorns released their hold only to regain it whence it expanded again. A needle entering the flesh is painful. Many needles entering and exiting such a sensitive organ must be excruciatingly painful. It is this secret place that all people have inside that hides the most vulnerable of thoughts and feelings and Jesus willed to expose it for us.
Jesus asks us to follow His example. We must open ourselves, our deepest, secret place to God in prayer, even throughout the day, as He exposed to us His secret place and re-establish a link that will traverse this life and beyond.
The following video shows what a life led with the mind and not with the heart leads to: