The Sacred Heart of Jesus; abyss of all virtues15 May 2017, by Events in
Two days ago, I was invited by members of the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary to talk to them about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the abyss of all virtues. It was at St. Charles’ Parish, Apapa, Lagos. Below is the edited version of the talk I presented.
The size of the human heart is like a closed fist; it is small. But small as it is, it is like an abyss, so deep. It is biologically the organ that pumps blood around the body, but a whole lot of stuff is said about the heart. We have heard people say that the heart of that man is wicked, or the heart of that man is good or bad. Scientifically, man’s heart can be opened to see if it is good or bad in terms of its biological functions but cannot be opened to see if it is wicked or not. Wickedness, goodness, or love in the heart are not like a tumor or a hole in the heart that can be detected through medical examinations; they are much deeper. Psychologists, medical doctors, and moral theologians may have so much to tell us about the workings of the heart and mind; I am not a professional in that field, but from my little understanding, I believe that the mind has to do with intellectual power while the heart is more of feelings and emotions.
For the sake of this talk, the words ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ may be used interchangeably. The Heart of Jesus is not different from man’s heart in the sense of feelings and emotions; he is both man and God. His Heart deals with feelings and emotions just like anyone else’s; he became emotional and wept when he met with the sisters of his late friend Lazarus (Jn. 11:35); his Heart is an abyss, like a bottomless pit. It is so deep that no man can get to its bottom, but we know that it is an abyss of all virtues.
We can take virtue to mean behavior or attitude showing a high moral standard: we talk about the virtue of love, silence, charity, prayer, and so on, and that is what the Heart of Jesus is filled with. It is a Heart that is so open yet very deep. It is open in the sense that we can see all these virtues in Christ, but so deep because we cannot get to the bottom of it. God’s love for us, for instance, cannot be over-emphasized; we cannot fully understand it. Who can understand the mind of God; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:8-9). His love is simply amazing.
Time will not permit us to begin to look at each virtue, but on the cross, we see the opened Heart of Jesus with all the virtues; we see love, patience, silence, prayer, sacrifice, faith, hope, and all the virtues you can think of. The Sacred Heart Jesus is the abyss of all virtues, and In calling the Sacred Heart of Jesus an abyss of all virtues, we wish to say that He possesses all virtues in such perfection that we cannot grasp their grandeur nor sound their depth. There is no virtue, no matter how difficult to practice and how rare among men, that is not found in Him, none that is not present in Him in all its possible perfection, without flaw or deficiency. In Christ is no virtue that needs increment; you can’t add anything to any virtue in Him; they are in their perfections. This is a fact I doubt if any Christian would want to contest, it is, in fact, incontestable.
Today, the question is not whether the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the abyss of all virtues; we all know it is. It’s just like one asking if God loves us; for sure, He does. The question is not about God’s love for us but our love for Him. Similarly, we are not in doubt about the Heart of Jesus being the abyss of all virtues, but we doubt our response to the invitation to this Heart.
We are all gathered here as members of the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are so passionate about this devotion, we talk about it, and we left every other thing behind to be here this afternoon and even try to make more members of the Church join the Association. But we must know that it is not just enough to be devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus but to realize that our devotion is a call to be like what we are devoted to. That was how the apostles got the name Christians; they were like Christ. We cannot be devoted to a Heart that is an abyss of all virtues while our own hearts are different. Our hearts are different not because they are not like an abyss; they are like a bottomless pit. But we must ask ourselves if our hearts are an abyss of virtues or an abyss of fire, hate, anger, depression, and all other negative emotions.
Been devotees to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a challenge to be like unto them; it is not just about mere admiration. To be like Jesus, we must, first of all, know him, not just knowing him as the Son of Joseph and Mary or, as Jesus that lived over two thousand years ago, but as Jesus who was, who is and who is to come. We must know Him to the extent of having a personal relationship with Him. We cannot be devoted to what we do not know. If we are devoted to a heart we do not know, then we are pretending. I know we cannot fully understand God, but the Spirit of God leads us to the complete truth. It is written that even though we cannot understand God on our own, the Holy Spirit leads us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1 Cor. 2:7-16).
Knowing Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him must translate into action; our devotion and relationship with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary must translate into a good relationship amongst us and those around us. Our hearts will be an abyss of vices if we cannot relate well with one another.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the abyss of all virtues, is a call to make reparation prayers. The name of Jesus is regularly blasphemed and abused in media, literature, and everyday conversation. Each time this happens, the heart of Christ is wounded again by the rejection of his creatures. We can show love to the Sacred Heart by making acts of reparation for the abuse that Jesus receives. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the constant offering of reparation prayer is a kind of ‘balm’ on the wounded Heart, and that should be one of our major aims of coming together as an Association. If we believe that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the abyss of all virtues, and the Heart of God, then it should be enthroned in our hearts and lives as our king. An important aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart is recognizing and submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ in every aspect of our lives. Jesus is truly a king—the king of the Church, of our families, and of society in general. The tradition of enthroning the Sacred Heart is an excellent way to express this kingship of Christ. He is not to be enthroned and abandoned but to be worshiped. Many of us here have enthroned the abyss of all virtues in our homes; we should carry these virtues wherever we go. And for those who have not done the enthronement, you must not wait until it is physically enthroned in your house; it must be enthroned and worshiped in your heart before your house. Meditating on the Sacred Heart of Jesus leads us into how deep God’s love for us is; it is amazing love. In honoring the Heart of Christ, our homage lingers on the Person of Jesus in the fullness of His love. This love of Christ for us was the moving force of all he did and suffered for us — in Nazareth, on the Cross, in giving Himself in the Blessed Sacrament, in His teaching and healing, in His praying and working. When we speak of the Sacred Heart, we mean Jesus showing us His Heart, Jesus all love for us and all lovable. As we reflect today on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the abyss of all virtues, let it be a reminder to all of us of the aims and objectives of this Association. Let us draw strength and inspiration from this Heart and pray to be like unto Him.