Spiritual Reading 3

3. Devoted to Love

The heart of Christianity is the Heart of Jesus, a passionate devotedness to the well-being of humanity. To be a Christian is to be possessed by that same passionate intention.

Indeed, to say that God created the world is to affirm that it vibrates at a pitch identical to the nature of God who is love. Indeed, the pitch we were meant to live at is love. Life does not ever feel quite right unless love is the best and greatest part of it. St. John says: “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love….” 1John 3:14 Evolution moves toward more and more consciousness (“We know…”) and love is the culmination of that consciousness (“…we have passed from death to life because we love…)”. This what Jesus meant by the kingdom of love and justice, a new era of goodness and mercy, a new possibility for the survival of our planet. Mystic St. Mechtild brings us hope when she adds: “To reanimate the flood of love, God has left us the Sacred Heart till the end of time.”

From time immemorial we humans have searched for God and all the while God had been seeking us. This is the striking and unique quality of the revelations of the Sacred Heart as well as of the Incarnation. Our search is called the hero’s journey and its goal is love. The Sacred Heart is what that love looks like. When the Sacred Heart began to appear in human history, first on the cross and then in mystical revelations, it became clear that there never was a need to search. What we were looking for was inside us waiting for us to deliver it.

The stern bearded creator on the Sistine ceiling does not seem quite approachable or lovable. The revelation of the Sacred Heart shows, at last unequivocally, the utter accessibility of God. The Sacred Heart is the ring of flames God places on our finger after the courtship of the ages. All we have to say is yes. Indeed, the Sacred Heart is what that yes looks like.

We do not love God as one person loves another, subject to object. Since God is love, whenever we love anyone we begin to love God and when we love everyone we love God with our whole heart. The Sacred Heart shows us how to do that: always with fire and light, sometimes with suffering, never ceasing in love.

Throughout my adult life, I have felt nurtured by devotion to the Sacred Heart. I always knew it spoke to me in a special way but it took all these years to hear what I was being asked to do. It took me fifty years of looking at pictures of the Sacred Heart before I understood what they were saying to me, asking of me, and offering to me. For instance, I never understood that this image of Jesus was saying something different from all the others I had seen. This time, the emphasis was not on punishment but on forgiveness, not on our search for God but on God’s longing for us, not on our need to expiate but on expiation already made, not on rules but on the one command to love.

Since Christ does not release us from his fate, let us hope that we will discover in our association with the sacrament of his heart what we will be and what we really are.

-Karl Rahner