This week we celebrate the Beautiful Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The main origins of the feast are with the visions received by St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, a 17th-century Visitation nun in a town called Paray-le-Monial, France. Her visions of Jesus presenting himself with his heart, were initially disbelieved by her fellow sisters. Then Jesus promised her in prayer that he would send her his “faithful servant and perfect friend.” Shortly afterwards, a Jesuit named Claude la Colombiere showed up at the convent to serve as a spiritual director for the sisters. He saw that Sister Margaret Mary’s visions were authentic, and devotion to the Sacred Heart spread from there.
Some people might be turned off by the devotion thanks to kitschy representations of Jesus pulling open his cloak and pointing to his Sacred Heart. But if we set this devotion aside, we will miss out on a great opportunity to meditate on one of the most important aspects of Jesus’s life: the way that he loved. The Sacred Heart is an invitation to ask ourselves, “How did Jesus love?” and “Whom did Jesus love?” For me the answers to those two questions are: abundantly, totally and completely; and everyone, especially those who were poor or marginalized. But there are other questions that Solemnity of the Sacred Heart raises: “How do I love?” and “Whom do I love?” And the most important question of all, “How can I love like Jesus?” Maybe that’s a question you can ask yourself all week, as you encounter each person with the love of your own heart, which seeks to love as Jesus’s Sacred Heart did.