A Portrait of Jesus as a Lover

This piece was originally a sermonette I delivered eight years ago. I was a novice back then.
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I was still a young aspirant in Canlubang when I first heard a joke about the Salesians of Don Bosco. The joke goes like it will be difficult for the Salesians to be successful in running medical centers due to the possible names of their supposed hospitals:

Don Bosco General Hospital: Give me souls, take away the rest.
Savio Medical Center: Death, rather than sin.

Titles are very important because they convey the first and crucial impression we wish to impart to people. Without us even explaining them, they suggest ideas; they form opinions in our very minds.

Over the centuries, mankind has assigned various titles to Jesus. I got across this site claiming there are about 144 names and titles attributed to Christ in the Bible.

Jesus (his name literally means “Yahweh saves”) is known in His many titles:

He is the Nazarene.
He is also known as the Lamb of God.
He is the Bread of Life.
The Word of God.
The Wonderful Counselor.
The last Adam.
He is the only begotten Son.
The Bridegroom.
He is the Emmanuel.
He is the Messiah.
He is the Christ.

The list goes on and on; His title is indeed a legion.

These titles must have been given by individuals who have felt His real and divine presence in their lives and eventually have become intimate with their dealing with Him.

As a human being, I guess, Jesus is romantic. He showered Peter with good words when the latter professed that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus also addressed John the Evangelist as “His beloved.”

And as Divine, He is intimate. We know in the Scriptures that before He created us, He readied first our dwelling. He made sure that our essential needs for survival are within our reach.

I think his being romantic and intimate is one of the reasons why he himself requested that He be honored in an image of a lover, when He revealed His most Sacred Heart to St. Mary Margaret Alacoque.

But one would ask, why of all His organs, would He wish us to honor His heart? Why not His most sacred hands? Or His most sacred feet, or his most sacred fingers?

The heart

The heart was historically seen by some as the seat of the soul and the organ responsible for human thought. The Romans for example noticed that emotions often corresponded with changing heart rates such as fear, love and excitement. It is now known that the heart has nothing to do with thought or love, people still carry on using the term “heart” metaphorically when talking about love.[1]

But why is the Heart of Jesus selected as the object of our special adoration?

His real and physical Heart is a natural symbol of the infinite charity of the Savior and of His interior and spiritual life. The heart is a vital organ which, as it throbs within us, is part of our existence.

The reason of taking the Sacred Heart of our Savior as an object of our worship is not only because it is a part of His body, but because it symbolizes His love for all mankind. His heart symbolizes His great love for us.

In her vision, St. Mary Margaret described the Heart of Jesus. It was heavily pierced and bleeding, yet there were flames, too, coming from it and a crown of thorns surrounding it.

Let me, at this point, characterize his love for us.

Vulnerability

The thorns encircling His heart mark his vulnerability, his weakness.

He came into our world not as a Superman. He was brought in as a feeble infant, dependent on the care of His parents. He even got lost at one point. He was very much involved in our affairs as humans. And I guess, at many times, He was also disappointed. He experienced pain. He suffered.

At times, when we open our hearts, we run the risk, too, of being hurt; of being rejected; of being disappointed that after giving all our hearts to an endeavor, we end up as a failure.

Jesus is indeed a perfect lover. He gave His love down to its final drop until He couldn’t longer give anything more that He breathed His last. He was a big failure; and He willingly failed because of His great love for us.

Loves unconditionally

The little cross pressed just above His burning heart symbolizes his unconditional love.

Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted for God’s love and sacrifice of His Son for all men the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity cannot escape God’s punishment.

The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Savior who died on the cross for all of us. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger.[2]

The love of Christ is not followed by the conjunctions because or if. It is always punctuated with a period. He loves because he is love.

Will-driven love

The love of Jesus is not propelled by mere nostalgia or superficial sentimentalities; it is founded on His decision to die for our sins, to give glory to the Father. It is a decision that came from His free will. He could have opted to have a second option in exchange of His love. But He swallowed the bitter pill—and the rest is history. We are saved!

According to Albus Dumbledore, the former headmaster of Hogwarts, our decision, our choice, and not our abilities defines who we are.

At times, we are presented with a difficult situation to love especially when the person in front of us does not deserve our love. However, we are provided with a good model of a lover.

Christ chose to love. He is love.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.

[1] Wikipedia

[2] Catholic Culture

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