Tomorrow is the Feast in the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. "Have a heart" was once a common phrase pleading that someone show mercy, kindness or openness to someone else. Jesus' whole life was a window to the Heart of God.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is based in Scripture, especially in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus invites us to "come" to him, and learn from him, because he is meek and gentle (or humble) of heart. Again in the story of the call of Matthew (in chapter 9 verse 13) the tax collector, Jesus answered his critics with these words: "Go and learn the meaning of these words, 'It is mercy that I desire and not sacrifice.' " Jesus echoes the prophet Hosea who tells us that God asks this of us: "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). Certain Saints worked hard to make devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a "household" phrase in Catholic communities. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque reported to her chaplain that Jesus had appeared to her and had asked people to pray to him with the title, Sacred Heart. Since she lived in a cloister with limited contact with any outsiders, Margaret needed to trust the chaplain with the task of letting others know about Jesus' requests. A Jesuit Father, Claude de la Colombiere was assigned to be confessor of Margaret's community. After discerning that what Sister Margaret asked for was the will of God, Father Claude got the word out. Thanks to Claude and his fellow Jesuits, more and more people were made aware of the love and mercy of the Heart of Jesus for them. Before St. Margaret Mary, St. John Eudes who lived from 1601 to 1680 preached devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Back in 1929 Pope Pius XI said this about devotion to the Sacred Heart: "From the Heart of Christ men and women learn to know the true and only meaning of their life and destiny...they unite a filial love for God with love for neighbor. This is true reparation asked for by our Savior. Then we can build the civilization of love, the kingdom of the heart of Christ."
Last year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Pope Benedict said, "The very core of Christianity is expressed in the Sacred Heart of Jesus....God's heart calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to forsake our human certainties, to trust in him and, by following his example, to make ourselves a gift of unbounded love." This year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, will mark the close of the year for Priests. Let us pray for all priests that they each may reflect the love of the Heart of Jesus for those whom they are called to serve.