Looking at the sacred heart of Jesus, we see the heart of God made human, experiencing every hurt, pain and bitter suffering the human heart is able to feel.
Some years ago I received a phone call from a woman I will call Barb. After she said hello, she explained, “I was just calling because… well, I just need someone to tell me again… I know something is wrong with it, but I need to be told again why you shouldn’t kill yourself.”
I could understand why she was asking. In the last year, Barb had watched her only son die slowly from an extremely painful condition, with disturbing stages of deterioration. A year after she lost him, her husband died suddenly. Understandably, the pain and loss had initiated a crisis in her regarding the point of existing. She had a vague belief that there was a God, though she had never attended a church and she was not officially a Christian. After speaking for a while, she shared that her goal was to do her best to continue living life as “normally” as she could, and then she unexpectedly asked, “What religion is it that has the picture of Jesus showing his heart? That’s what I believe in. I can tell that Jesus’ heart knows what it is to suffer. I believe that heart knows what I’m going through.”
Somehow she innately understood, without any one explaining it to her, the significance of the images she had seen. Looking at the sacred heart of Jesus, we see the heart of God made human, experiencing every hurt, pain and bitter suffering the human heart is able to feel. When we refer to the heart of a person, we are talking symbolically about his or her core. We see in the core of Jesus, love, sacrifice, humility, tenderness, self-emptying, compassion, and a wound from being pierced. Beyond these signatures of suffering and love, we know through Scripture that He felt all the sufferings of mankind. Because He is both God and man, He took on the suffering of every complicated anguish and self-inflicted injury every person in humanity has experienced. There is no loss, shame, confusion guilt or suffering He has not felt.
So the next time you feel alone in your personal suffering, and the sting that no one seems to comprehend what is taking place inside you, take a moment to remember that there is a matching “wound,” a matching ache in the Heart of Jesus and that at least one Person knows how you feel.
Maria Miravalle is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at Cornerstone of Hope’s Cleveland Location.