Sacred Heart, by Lea Mallett
BEFORE the Blessed Sacrament, I heard:
How I long to see your heart burst into flame! But your heart must be willing to love as I love. When you are petty, avoiding eye contact with this one, or an encounter with that one, your love becomes preferential. It is really not love at all, because your kindness to others has as its end self-love.
No, My child, love means to expend yourself, even for your enemies. Is this not the measure of love I demonstrated upon the Cross? Did I only take the scourge, or the thorns—or did Love completely exhaust itself? When your love for another is a crucifixion of self; when it bends you; when it burns like a scourge, when it pierces you like thorns, when it leaves you vulnerable—then, you have truly begun to love.
Do not ask me to take you out of your present situation. It is a school of love. Learn to love here, and you will be ready to graduate into the perfection of love. Let My pierced Sacred Heart be your guide, that you too may burst into a living flame of love. For self-love douses the Divine Love within you, and renders the heart cold.
Then I was led to this Scripture:
Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1:22)
LIVING FLAMES OF LOVE
We are in those days when:
…because of the increase in evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. (Matt 24:12)
The antidote to this frigid despair is not more programs.
Holy people alone can renew humanity. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message to the Youth of the World, World Youth Day; n. 7; Cologne Germany, 2005
The "program" is to become a living flame of love!—a soul who lights fires in the hearts of others because he has been willing to pick up his cross, deny himself, and follow in the footsteps of our Lord’s Passion. Such a soul becomes a Living Well of love because it is no longer he who lives (in his own will), but Jesus living through him.
What is your cross? The weaknesses, irritations, demands, and frustrations that those around you present to you each and every day. These form the cross on which you must lie. Their hurtful actions are the long whip that scourges, their words the thorns that prick, their neglect the nails that pierce. And the lance that wounds is the seeming absence of God to deliver you from it all: "Why have you forsaken me?" At the time, the trial seems senseless and foolish to endure. Indeed, the Cross is foolishness to the world, but to those who embrace it, the wisdom of God. For the one who endures, a resurrection of grace streams forth, and it can transform the world around you.
Alas, we are more often like the Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was Jesus who was seized by force—yet it was the Apostles who fled at the first sign of tribulation! Oh Lord, have pity… I see my soul in them. How can I conquer my instinct to flee suffering?
THE HEARTBEAT OF LOVE
The answer lies precisely in the one who did not flee—the beloved Apostle John. Perhaps he ran at first, but we find him later standing courageously beneath the Cross. How?
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus. (John 13:23)
John did not flee because he had listened to the heartbeats of Jesus. He learned at the Divine Breast the curriculum of the school of love: Mercy. The student John heard echoing within his own soul the great destiny for all those created in the image of God: to reflect the Lord’s own Mercy. Thus, the beloved Apostle did not strike out with a sword at the high priest’s guard. Instead, his presence beneath the Cross became the first act of mercy of the Church, to comfort His beaten and abandoned Lord, alongside the Mother. John’s own com-passion flowed from the school in which he was taught.
Yes, there are two parts to this school—the knowledge and the application. Prayer is the desk at which we learn the curriculum, and the Cross is the laboratory where we apply what we have learned. Jesus modeled this in Gethsemane. There, upon His knees, at the desk of prayer, Jesus leaned against the heart of His Father and begged that the cup of suffering be withdrawn. And the Father replied:
With that, our Savior stood up, and as it were, offered Himself in the laboratory of suffering, the school of love.
BY OUR WOUNDS.
After I received that Scripture from 1 Peter, I heard one last word:
Through your wounds, when united to Mine, many will find healing.
How? Through our testimony. Our testimony exposes to others the wounds and nailmarks which we bore for the sake of Christ. If you have suffered them willingly, entering the darkness of the tomb, then you too will emerge with wounds like our Lord’s that now, instead of bleeding, shine with the light of truth and power. Then others can, through your testimony, place their doubting fingers into your pierced side, and like Thomas, cry out, "My Lord and my God!" as they discover Jesus living in you, burning and leaping into their hearts like a living flame of love.
From here must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for [Jesus’] final coming (Diary of St. Faustina, 1732). This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed to the world. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Consecration of the Divine Mercy Basilica, Cracow Poland, 2002.
They conquered [the accuser of the brethren] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. (Rev 12:11)
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.. (Col 1:24)
The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)
We are… always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. (2 Cor 4:8-10)