After we have contemplated the Holy Eucharist on the Solemn Feast of “Corpus Christi”, a gift crowning all the the gifts of the love of Jesus for men, the Church invites us today to give direct consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. We may call the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the feast of His “merciful love” (as our dearest St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus would have it). “Behold this Heart which has so loved men,” Our Lord said to St. Margaret Mary.
Today’s Liturgy inspired with this thought, reviews the immense benefits we owe to the love of Christ and sings a hymn in praise of His love: Cogitationes cordis Ejus (The thoughts of His Heart…), chants the Introit of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “are to all generations: to deliver them from death, to feed them in time of famine” (Ps 32.11,19, DRV). The Heart of Jesus is always in search of souls to save, to free from the snares of sin, to deliver from the dominion of Satan, to wash with His Blood, to feed with His Body. The Heart of Jesus is always living in the Eucharist to satisfy the hunger of all those who long for Him, to welcome and console all those who, disillusioned by the vicissitudes of life, take refuge in Him, seeking peace and refreshment. Jesus Himself is our support on the hard road of life. Take up My yoke upon you and learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls (Mt 11.29). It is impossible to eliminate sorrow from our life; yet if we live for Jesus we can suffer in peace and find in the Heart of Jesus repose for our weary soul.
The object of Christian devotion to the Sacred Heart is, properly speaking, the physical Heart of Jesus which is worthy of adoration, because it is part of His sacred humanity, hypostatically united to the Eternal Word – the union of human nature and divine nature in the Person of Our Lord. However, the ultimate object of this devotion is the love of Jesus, the symbol of which is His Heart. In other words, “beneath the symbolic image of the Heart, we contemplate and venerate our divine Redeemer’s immense charity and generous love” (Pope Pius VI). This is the real meaning of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by which the Church asks us to honour the Heart of Jesus as the visible representation of His invisible love. “Your charity has allowed You to be wounded by the visible blow of the lance,” the Liturgy of today’s Feast sings, “so that we may venerate the wounds of Your invisible love” (Roman Breviary).
Therefore, the principal object of this devotion is the love of Jesus, an uncreated love with which He, as the divine Word, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, loved us from all eternity (I have loved thee with an everlasting love…, Jer. 31.3), and from all eternity willed to become incarnate for our salvation. It is also the created love of charity with which, as Man, He loved us even to the death of the Cross, meriting for us by His love that same charity by which we are enabled to love Him in return. Here we find the most profound significance of devotion to the Sacred Heart. St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had such thorough understanding of this meaning that she made this devotion the centre of her life. The process of her canonisation says that the Saint “saw the Heart of Jesus as the centre, the source of the love with which the divine Word, in the bosom of the Father, loved us from all eternity, and merited for us in time the power to love Him in return, on earth and in heaven, by our sharing in this love.”