What strikes us most in contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus are the flames which consume and surround It. These mysterious flames cannot be contained even in that burning Heart; they escape through the wound, pass around the cross and among the thorns, covering and penetrating It completely. In a word, it is a burning Heart, an inflamed Heart. And what is this sacred fire which thus consumes the Heart of Jesus? It is the love which He has for us. "I am come," said He, "to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled" (Luke. xii. 49). One day, revealing His breast to Margaret Alacoque, He said to her: "My Heart, loving passionately mankind, can no longer contain the flames of Its charity; it is necessary for It to manifest Itself to them, in order to enrich them with the treasures It contains." At another time, showing her again the interior of His adorable Heart, He showed It to her as a burning furnace, glowing with flames.
Love was the life of the Heart of Jesus, was the mainspring of all Its movements, and of Its sorrows. It was love that caused Him to be born, to act, to suffer, and to weep; it was love, finally, which made Him die. And in the divine Eucharist, it is love that induces Him to give Himself to us; to be our guest, our companion, our Savior, our food and nourishment. "O Lord!" exclaimed St. Gertrude, "if men but knew how Thou dost love them: if Thou wouldst but reveal to them the infinite riches of Thy Heart, they would all fall at Thy feet, and would love but Thee. O mystery of infinite charity and abyss of love!"
What answer would you give, O Christian, if this good Master said to you as He did to His disciple: "Lovest thou me? Dost thou give me heart for heart love for love?" What would be your reply? Examine yourselves, place your hand on your own heart and see if it beats with love for Jesus. Alas! its affections are, perhaps, ouly for creatures; how few generous souls are there, how few hearts which really belong entirely to God, to Jesus Christ. How few are they who love infinite love. How do we manage not to love that which is so lovable? Oh! let us ask of Him a tender love with which to love Him, a strong love to suffer for Him, a confiding love in order to be able to lean by turns on His Heart and on His cross. Heart of Jesus, celestial flame, divine fire, destroy in us all that is not pure, and grant that our affections may be entirely thine. May we live only for love and die of love.
A priest relates the following conversion of a great sinner, in which the goodness of the Heart of Jesus is strikingly manifested.
"A young man, one of my parishioners, whose parents had given up the practice of their religion, became so impious and lawless that he scandalized even those who led bad lives. The excesses in which he indulged brought on an affliction of the lungs, which, gradually developing, was slowly, but surely, leading him to the grave. I visited him and gave him many proofs of the interest I took in him; but he met my advances with blasphemies and insults, refusing even to say one Hail Mary. His state filled me with grief; a soul redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ was about to perish and fall into eternal fire. ‘My good friend,’ said I to one of my curates, ‘go at once to Paray-le-Monial; ask prayers for our poor dying man, and place his name in the Heart of Jesus.’ He set off without delay, and the next day he was at Paray-le-Monial with the pilgrims from Dijon. Prayers were said and communions offered for the lost sheep, and his name was placed in a silver heart near the altar of the Heart of Jesus. Full of hope we went again to visit the sick man. ‘I prayed for you at Paray,’ said the curate, ‘and 1 have brought you a medal of the Sacred Heart.’ ‘I thank you,’ replied the dying sinner, and, call ing his mother, he asked for a ribbon, to which he attached the medal, placed it round his neck, and even kissed it with respect. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘I wish to go to confession, and it must be this very day.’ He made his confession, and received all the sacraments of the Church, to the great edification of all present. Whilst I administered Extreme Unction, he said: ‘Do not hurry, father, I must follow what you say, and ask pardon for my sins. Oh! how good is the Heart of Jesus in waiting for and pardoning me; if I could live longer how much I would love It.’ He died the following day, blessing the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus."
O Heart of Jesus! Thou dost always love us, notwithstanding our sins and innumerable crimes. In Thee love is stronger than death. Grant, by the assistance of Thy grace, that loving Thee with the most ardent love, we may obtain the pardon of our faults, final perseverance and eternal happiness. Amen.
Examine yourself to determine how much you live out of love for God and how much out of love for self or other things. Resolve to grow in love for God. But keep in mind that love for things other than God is not sinful unless it hinders or lessens love for God.