Open Up That Heart


Today in the traditional Church Calendar is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This has been historically celebrated mostly by Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans, but I have always found a tremendous interest in the Church calendar.

So I want to talk about this heart.

The heart of Jesus.

It sprang from the Franciscan devotion to Jesus’ wounds he received on the Cross, including his wounded heart. It was a way of focusing on the humanity of Jesus.

Yes, Jesus had a heart. It wasn’t a special glowing heart, or one that pumped extra nice blood into his body. Nope. Jesus had a heart just like ours. It pumped blood through his circulatory system to provide nutrients and oxygen to his body, and help remove metabolic waste. It beat faster when he was excited and beat slower when he was calm. You could hear it if you lay on his chest.

In many cultures and religions the heart has always symbolized the seat and fountain of all human emotion, passion, and will. It represents the innermost and most intimate center of a person.

Think of the expression “to open one’s heart”. Jesus shows us what it looks like when a human heart is at its most open. He shows a heart wide open to the poor, sick and needy of the world. Wide open to everyone kicked to the edges of society—everyone yearning for an open heart, faced with nothing but closed hearts by everyone around them. Jesus shows us a heart wide open for love of the enemy—of the people we were told to hate as the good and righteous thing to do.

This heart was also wide open to be wounded. Wide open to face rejection, betrayal, and absolute hatred from people he loved. That’s how it works in life doesn’t it? Many of us are afraid to open our hearts wide because we don’t want to be hurt again. Yet at the same time we know that we can’t experience the love we once experienced with a heart only halfway open. Sure, it’s safer and without much risk, but is that how we’re supposed to live? A heart that isn’t open to the most difficult pain also can’t be open to the most transformative joy and love. That’s how it works. You open it all the way for both to come in. This is what a full human life looks like. And Jesus came as a human to show us what it looks like to live fully human. He calls us to live in our full humanity.

In Ephesians 2 the apostle Paul talks of Jesus’ death on the cross tearing down boundaries and bringing together enemies. He says “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Like an overwhelming magnet Jesus’ wide open heart draws everyone together. Isn’t this why so many people hate Christianity but really dig the person Jesus? They are drawn to his wide open heart, and often despise the closed hearts of so many Christians. This event was meant to tear down our walls, reconcile all humanity, and end the hostility. Then a group of people took this idea and built a new wall with it to keep the hostility going. Crazy, right?

Today let’s focus on that wide open heart of Jesus that calls us to live in our full humanity. Yes, we’re going to get hurt, stepped on betrayed but we also get the joy, love and grace that also comes with living a risky life of a heart wide open. This is so difficult for me because I’d rather be picky about who gets me at my widest and most caring. But I also understand that if I do that I am also closing myself off a whole world of possibility.

Jesus is the exemplar. Jesus is the archetype. Jesus is the model. Jesus shows us we can live this type of life, and tells his followers that they’ll do even greater things than he did. Let us follow that example and try to stretch those hearts just a little wider today.

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1 Comment

  1. very very goog


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