Put your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat. Wait for ten seconds. Listen. What do you hear? Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Your heart is quietly giving you life at this very moment. Your heart pumps life and blood through your body every day, every minute—and yet you might rarely notice this quiet miracle.
Your heart is a symbol of Christ’s love for you. There He is—quietly and powerfully loving you, giving you life and love, pouring out his life and blood for you.
I notice my heart when it is pounding before a big presentation, when I see an old friend, when I’m running, when I’m excited, afraid, or overjoyed. Ba-bum. Ba-bum. Ba-bum! I notice these physical signs and so do you. . . sometimes.
But what about spiritual signs? How can we notice Jesus’ love for us more often and more deeply? Jesus made our hearts, and He wants us to notice His Sacred Heart.
The heart is a popular image in popular culture. Buy a Valentine that says “I ❤ U.” Grab a souvenir t-shirt that reads “I ❤ NY.” See a funny cat video on social media and show your approval by clicking a little “❤”.
What does the “❤” mean in these examples? Affection? “Liking”? I wouldn’t really give my heart for a funny video. I would give my heart for my family members or close friends. Real love involves affection as well as an ongoing commitment to the relationship. Real love is not always easy; we need God’s help.
The Lord made our hearts in His image and likeness. He promises to renew our hearts: “I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez 36:26). Through another prophet, God promised to “write [His] law upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33).
The Sacred Heart of Jesus
For centuries, Christians have honored the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Jesus Himself has a beating, human heart.. The eternal Son of God was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary; He grew as a boy and into a young man; He preached, taught, suffered and died on the Cross; He rose to new life in His Resurrected Body. The risen Jesus has a human heart that is beating with love for you and me, right now.
Who am I? What am I? Let these questions drift through your mind and heart. For example, I am a son, a brother, a priest, an American, a man, a friend, a teacher, and a sinner. Yet, who am I at the deepest level of my being?
St. Ignatius of Loyola points us to the essential truth of our human identity: we are beloved sons and daughters of God. He writes, “I will consider how God dwells in creatures . . . in human beings, giving us intelligence, and finally how in this way he dwells also in myself, giving me existence, life, sensation, and intelligence; and even further making me his temple, since I am created as a likeness and image of his divine majesty” (Spiritual Exercises, #235).
Ignatius points us to the opening chapter of Genesis. There we see the Father handcrafting Adam and Eve. The scriptures show us how the human race is the pinnacle of God’s creation. God made us, and God sees that we are “very good” (Gn 1:31).
Since we are made in God’s image, we are like God. We have an ability to know, understand, speak, listen, and love. God has all knowledge, and God is love; still, we share in His gifts in our own human way. Our hearts are made in the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His heart beats with love for us, even at this very moment. Ba-bum. Ba-bum.
We aren’t perfect, of course, but let’s focus on how we do resemble God in His goodness. Imagine God looking at you with joy and love. He is pleased. He did a good job, a “very good” job, in fact. God looks upon your heart and smiles. What do you feel in your heart when you see God looking at you? Are you happy? Embarrassed?
For many of us, seeing ourselves as ‘made in the image of God’ is not easy, even though we are made for communion with the Lord. Yet the truth is that God desires a loving relationship with us in this life and in eternal life.
Our culture often emphasizes the things that are wrong with us. Advertisements constantly tell us we’re not wealthy enough, beautiful enough, strong enough, cool enough. And yet, sometimes we do get a glimpse of our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of the Father.
Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This feast occurs each summer on the Friday after Corpus Christi (which is two weeks after Pentecost; the dates shift based on Easter). On this feast we are invited to “behold the Heart which has loved humanity so much.”
These words were spoken to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, who experienced a series of visions of the Heart of Jesus. Further, on the first Friday of every month, Jesus invites us to honor His Heart by attending Mass or through other prayers or practices.
On this great feast, let us behold the Heart of the Son of God. Let us recall that we are beloved sons and daughters of God; truly our hearts are made in His image and likeness. With His grace, our hearts can be healed, strengthened, and renewed. He asks us to unite our hearts with His Sacred Heart for the salvation of all hearts.