Friday, March 16, 2012


"The stab on the Heart of Jesus by a spear was the last of the many wounds inflicted on Christ. One of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water." (John 19:34) Thus, when the talk is about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we inevitably begin the reflection on the love of God, expressed in the love of the Heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. We keep remembering the heart, and retain it as the main symbol of love in the devotion.

But there is something more than love in the human heart - for from the heart many acts of goodness ensure, and these images of goodness are what we remember.

There was drought in Mindanao in 1982-1983. For 10 months there was no rain; there was no harvest and people were starving. One day, a barrio catechist came to our rectory pleading for food. We gave her the entire rice and gift offering and part of the Sunday Mass collection. She went back to the hills, bringing among other gifts, nearly a sack of rice. Three days later, she was back asking for more. I told her those gifts were sufficient to supply her and her family till the end of the month. She explained that when she arrived home in the afternoon, the children of the neighborhood were crying for they had not had breakfast. The catechist shared with them everything she had, and overnight, in the entire neighborhood, she made herself endearing to all.

There is something in a kind act that makes people remember; not only because it is said that gratitude is the memory of the heart, and the heart becomes the source of kindness, the beginning of friendship and love. St. Paul reminds us that "there should be love coming from a pure heart." (1 Timothy 1:5)

Just try this: Do something good, a small act of kindness, listen with sympathy, show a happy disposition, make it a habit of seeing what is good, or only the possibility of goodness, even when it is not yet there - make this habit from the heart and you will be remembered by your children, you friends, and even those who see you in a different way.

From the heart! Start from the heart! The heart has become the symbol of love and so we hold that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the furnace of God's love. This heart symbol has been picked up by the material commercial world to promote a syrupy, sentimental idea of love to benefit Valentine's Day. All said of the romantic world, the heart can still be empty of genuine love and compassion.

Is the heart really the seat of love? Yes, the heart can be the seat of love; but the heart reveals more than i t symbolizes.

Theologians, and other thinkers, consider the heart as the core, the very center of the human person. It is in the heart that we know God, through conscience. It is in the human heart where everyone, you and me, "get in touch with the truth" about ourselves, who we are, with no pretense, and no make believe. It is in the human heart where we become aware of ourselves as living truth - or not living the truth.  Why, it is in the heart where we become aware of the presence (and encouragement) of God in our lives.

St. Augustine speaks of the "eye of the heart" where enlightenment by faith and love of our neighbor, we see God. "For as long as you do this to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do it to me" (Matthew 25-40) the Lord said. Be compassionate doing an act of God and you will be extending the influence of God's goodness in this world and you will truly reflect His goodness and Image, His kindness and holiness.

In the realm of the spirit, simply put, in the spiritual life which you and I share with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in our common way back to our Father, it is in the heart that sees and guides us. Thus. the heart is a holy place for you and me - a sacred heart even for all of us, simple Christians; our is a sacred, holy heart. Notice how some people for whom understanding has been extended and acceptance is assured, despite evident weakness, will still mark "he has a good heart."

Truth is, that it is not through hearing that God is heard of received. It is in the heart where the God of love is welcomed. It is in the heart of everyone where God's voice re-echoes and fidelity to that voice (which we call conscience) guides the person in the pursuit of truth, and directs him to the solution of problems. No word of truth and goodness, let alone the word of God, can be shared, retold or preached to others (we, priests to you; or you, parents to your children; or teacher to their students) without first having lived the the word in the heart. (Story of teenage student caught taking drugs, confronting his drunkard and gambling father as the Principal's office, San Isidro College, Bukidnon).

It is in the heart where a person is healed or where deeper wounds are inflicted. Be healed from and in the heart. "Come to me" Jesus invites the disciples and others "for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for you souls" (Matthew 11:29).

Was Jesus broken hearted when He died on the cross in Calvary? It would appear to some that He was since He hang there from the gibbet three hours, abandoned by all, betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter; everyone escaped except John, who had to take care of Mary, His Mother, It was simply significant that His last wound caused by a spear, was thrust into His chest, piercing His heart.

Was Jesus devastated by death and the betrayal of nearly all of His disciples? The truth is that He was not broken hearted; He was not disheartened, Though wounded in the heart (physically and morally), the Hear of Jesus was disciplined, schooled and trained to suffer. He expected death not as a terminal, but a stage to pass across to the new Life of the Resurrection- His Paschal Mystery. "The Son of Man: is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the Elders, the Chief Priests and Scribes, and to be put to death and be raised up on the third day" (Luke 9:22).

Jesus knew that the Paschal event was just in reality, only a passing or crossing over. His disciples did not yet understand the Good News of the Father's Kingdom of Love, and while entertaining their own desires for their country, tried to affix their political aspirations to the Good News of the Father's Love that Jesus lived and preached, Still insisting, these two disciples on their way to Emmaus said, " our own hope had been that He would be the one to set Israel free." (Luke 24:21) Their hearts are not yet beating at the same pace with the Heart of the Lord. The Heart of Jesus had already been healed, the disciples were still hurting.

(Story of the Foreword, written to introduce the Via Crucis Booklet where it was said that it was good for the people when their priest suffer and even fail.) The uplifting words of Henri Nouwen show how a person can be healed in the heart. And we quote below:

"You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged, because under every wound you uncover, you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search, Many tears still need to be shed.

Do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have a sufficient strength to face them.

The great challenge is living your wounds through, instead of thinking them through, it is better to cry than to worry; better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them; better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head, you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. You need to let your wounds g down into your heart - then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.

Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through." (Henri Nouwen, "The Inner Voice of Love" pp 109-110)

When we talk of the Most Sacred heart of Jesus, we mean more than just the reality of the Love of Jesus; we say that the Heart of Jesus is the heart of the humanity of Jesus, together with all the traits He has - as the Incarnate Word of the Father.

In the Heart of Jesus is the Meek Christ; In the Heart of Jesus is the Humble Christ. And when he says; "Come to me because you are heavily burdened" He assures all that they will have rest and tranquility. Try Jesus. Go to the Sacred Heart when you are down. You cannot change the whole world. He had difficulty doing it. Neither can you change your family, nor yourself alone. You need Him because the rest and peace we are looking for can only come from a meek and humble heart. He alone can give.

And because Jesus is presented as the Word of God Incarnate taking the form of man, "He has, in a certain way, united Himself with each man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, He acted with a human will, and with a human heart, He loved." (G.S. No. 22)

In His Incarnation, Jesus is presented as the most personal God who can be approached by human beings. Our first task then is to know Him, and we can know Him just like a personal friend. He is open to friendships and even when asked where He lived, He responded with an invitation" "Come and see." And two disciples, John and Andrew saw, stayed and lived with Him for the rest of the day, In Jesus, we are invited by God to Him, and to ask questions and to listen to Him in our prayers.


One saying goes this way: If you know a person, you will love him. If you love a person, you simply must know him more.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is an invitation to know and love Him. And having known Jesus and loving Him, we can only share His Love with others who still have space in their own hearts for Jesus.


Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales
January 5, 2012
Makati City, Philippines