Archive for July, 2016

sacred heart

July 5, 2016 6 comments

Sacred Heart

In 1673 Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque (now a Saint in the Catholic Church), a 26 year old nun in Eastern France, was praying before the Eucharist one evening when the Lord appeared to her and gave her an incredible message with an unforgettable image to anchor her memory:

The Divine Heart was presented to me in a throne of flames, more resplendent than a sun, transparent as crystal, with this adorable wound. And it was surrounded with a crown of thorns, signifying the punctures made in it by our sins, and a cross above signifying that from the first instant of His Incarnation, […] the cross was implanted into it […]

Then she added what the Divine Apparition said:

My Divine Heart is so inflamed with love for men, and for thee in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning charity, It needs to spread them abroad by thy means, and manifest itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious treasures which I discover to thee, and contain graces of sanctification and salvation necessary to withdraw them from the abyss of perdition. I have chosen thee as an abyss of unworthiness and ignorance for the accomplishment of this great design, in order that everything may be done by Me.

Okay, I realize the flow and usage of 17th Century vernacular is a bit awkward, but there are parts of this dialogue that are absolutely beautiful. You can easily spot the piety of the age. Self-loathing was their way to humility, but Sister Margaret Mary saw something that definitely got her attention. Actually, it has gotten a lot of people’s attention over the past four centuries.

The rest of the story is that Jesus asked Margaret Mary to place her own heart inside of His flaming heart. Once her heart was also inflamed by His love, He gave her heart back and sent her to spread the word of His compassionate love.

Maybe this is a message that should never lose its affect upon us?

Eighty seven years later, an Italian painter did his best to convey the essence of what Sister Margaret Mary saw that evening. I have no masterful eye for art, but it seems to me that Pompeo Girolamo Batoni produced one of the more beautiful illustrations of what Jesus represents to and for mankind. Not that it gets that much recognition, but when we actually contemplate the implications of the Sacred Heart painting, it really does bring you back to earth some. It doesn’t take a lot of understanding to glean the truth of what Pompeo was saying. There is something very personal in that painting. Let me see if I can shed some more light.

The robe of Jesus is red and it declares that robe has been blood drenched with His forgiveness, grace and mercy. The blue  mantle on His right shoulder declares that Divine authority has endorsed His overall mission. His gaze is piercing. While you’re looking at him, you realize He’s looking into you. But, for whatever reason, it doesn’t frighten you. There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. When have we ever encountered such compassion and total unconditional love?

Two things in this painting touch me deeply. Please allow me a few more words:

First, notice that Jesus presents His flaming heart way out in front of himself. It’s what He wants us to see and know first. His flaming heart is for us. His love is not thwarted. His acceptance of us is not contingent. His heart is always out there. That is His lead, and it’s totally exposed, vulnerable, and within reach. It’s His banner. His banner is love.

If I’m to be honest, I’d say that’s not always noticeable to hurting people because those of us who have eyes to see His love don’t always present ourselves as loving representatives of that Sacred Heart. I still can’t figure out who God doesn’t love on this planet. I know we do horrible things to each other. People who know the love of the Father, the love of the Sacred Heart, and the loving tenderness of the Holy Spirit should have no reason to deprive anyone of love.

Rigid, prideful, harsh, judgmental, legalistic, elitist, tribal, finger-pointing, dualistic-thinking religion isn’t of His essence. We probably need to remove the word Christian from our resumes if that’s how we roll. I’m serious. The true followers of Christ, those who carry His flaming heart of love, live by a different mantra. We can’t be the other way and convince anyone that we’re full of Him. So stop with the religious pretense. It’s not working.

Second, notice that there is an invitation to partake of that love. He points to His heart with a message that shouts: HERE IT IS! THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED. PARTAKE FOR YOURSELF. RECEIVE WHAT IS FREE. THEN GO AND DO THE SAME FOR OTHERS.

I realize that most of us are pretty much in touch with our needs. Our wants probably get more attention, but we do a decent job with our needs. At times, some of what we think we need isn’t what we really need.

You’re probably much quicker than I am. I’m prone to reach for snacks when, what I need, is real nourishment. That’s not the proper source of health. We have to be careful about what we reach for when we’re hurting, beat up, lonely, scared, or anxious. Even our most precious loves can get in the way of what we really need from Him.

His Sacred Heart is out there. It’s always out there.

When is the last time you reached inside, took your own battered heart, and put it inside of His flaming love? I know it’s a scary thought to some, but I promise you He will give it back to you in better condition than it was when you gave it to Him.

THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FULLY ALIVE! Don’t let anyone convince you that being alive is tied to another adventure, mission, or plan. It’s not the truth. God is love. That is the truth and that truth will totally set you free to live and love others. That’s living. That’s what it means to be fully alive. That’s the power of His Sacred Heart!

Live everyday inside this magnificent truth: GOD LOVES US ALL!

Mike  xo

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