The Sacred Heart of Jesus


John O'Brien is a Jesuit scholastic from Canada whom I met recently at a gathering of Jesuits who are involved in the work of the Apostleship of Prayer.  He is part of the Jesuit Mission Band that will be giving our popular "Hearts on Fire" retreats for young adults in six cities of the southern U.S. this summer.  Earlier this month he wrote a beautiful reflection on the image of the Sacred Heart for a blog that he and several other young Canadian Jesuits have begun.  It's called "Ibo et Non Redibo," which is Latin for "I shall go and I shall not return" and comes from a letter that the French Jesuit missionary and martyr St. Isaac Jogues wrote.   On this great feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus I am happy to share his reflections entitled "Heart of the World."

Pope Benedict has invited the faithful to renew their devotion to the Sacred Heart and with good reason: as a symbol – and object of meditation – it contains many dimensions of the mystery of God. Let’s reflect on a few of those.


First, the heart is visible. Jesus does not conceal his love, but makes it readily available to all. It
is offered to us. He is vulnerable in that respect. It calls us to let down our barriers.


There are thorns that encircle it. This is not a valentine, but a passionate love that has and will suffer for the beloved. Just as our own vulnerable love can sometimes suffer, so does Christ’s for us.


There’s a cross on top of the heart. John and Mary stood at the foot of the cross when others had run away. This is an invitation to us to stand with them for Jesus. However this plays out in our lives, this is love in action.


The wound. It reminds us of the blood and water that flowed when the heart was pierced by the soldier’s lance. Both elements signify the life (Eucharist and baptism) that results from his sacrifice. It is also the birth of the Church.


The fire blazing. The most dramatic element, it tells us about the fierce love that God has for his people. It offers light and warmth to all who approach, and its blaze melts the hardened parts of our hearts. This fire is also contagious, and will inflame us in going out to set the world on fire.