Jesus worked. Jesus suffered. Jesus loved. The Son of God became man and took on our humanity completely, though without sin. Why would he do such a thing? God could simply have saved us from his throne in heaven, but he wanted to associate himself with us as much as possible. He does not simply love us as God. He also loves us with a human love, because the Son of God became man. Jesus loves us as God and also as man. He is not only our Lord and Master. His human love shows us that he is also our friend.
It may seem odd to have a feast for a body part, although it symbolizes the human love of Jesus. Jesus has a human heart, which pumped blood throughout his body. It was the center of his bodily life, from which blood and water came forth on the Cross. His heart expresses his complete gift of himself in love. It represents his love in becoming man and then in offering his whole self to us.
His heart is also an invitation. He specifically pointed us to his heart in his teaching: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:29). Jesus wants us to love like him. If we are willing to receive the love of his heart, we should imitate this love and make a gift of ourselves for others.
His human love also reveals something greater. The Son of God became man to reveal the Father and his great love for us. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18). The “bosom” of the Father could be interpreted as the Father’s own heart. The Father does not have a human heart or any kind of body, but he loves the Son with an infinite love. He wanted to show this infinite love to us as well and so he sent his only Son into the world so that we could know this love, that comes from his “bosom,” his inner life. Jesus’s human heart becomes a tabernacle and manifestation of the Father’s love that flows into us through the Holy Spirit.
The feast of Jesus’s Sacred Heart has a profound and even infinite meaning. It proves us to us that God has loved us to the fullest extent and wants us to love like him. Jesus’s heart should reassure us that God knows human life, because he has taken it on and united it to himself. His human heart will continue to beat with love for us forever, inviting us into an everlasting communion of friendship and love with Jesus, and through him to enter into the bosom of the Father.
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Dr. Staudt serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as an Instructor for the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Seminary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He and wife, Anne, have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.