The entire earthly life of our adorable Savior was a continual exercise of charity and goodness towards us. But it was at the time of His Passion that He gave us the most remarkable proofs of His love. Then it was that out of the abundance of his charity, He suffered frightful torments to deliver us from the terrible punishments of hell and to win for us the everlasting joys of heaven. It was then that His adorable body was covered with wounds and bathed in His blood. His sacred head was pierced with sharp thorns, His hands and feet were transfixed with huge nails, His ears filled with blasphemies and curses, His lips moistened with gall and vinegar, and his soul forcibly and painfully wrenched from His body by the cruel Jews. At that time particularly His divine Heart was rent by countless painful, bleeding wounds. Indeed, one can count the wounds in the adorable Heart of Jesus. There are two kinds of wounds, resulting from two different causes.
The first cause of those most painful wounds in the Sacred Heart of our Redeemer is our sins. We read in the life of St. Catherine of Genoa that one day God let her see the horror of one tiny venial sin. She assures us that, although this vision lasted but a moment, she saw nevertheless an object so frightening that the blood froze in her veins and she swooned away in an agony that would have killed her if God had not preserved her to relate to others what she had seen. Wherefore she declared that if she were in the very depths of a sea of flaming fire and it were in her power to be set free, on condition that she should once more behold such a spectacle, she would choose to remain rather than to escape. If the sight of the smallest venial sin brought this saint to such a pass, what must we think of the state to which our Savior was reduced by seeing all the sins of the universe? He had them continually before His eyes, and His vision being infinitely more powerful than that of St. Catherine, He could behold infinitely more horror.
He saw the immeasurable insult and dishonor caused His Father by all sins; He saw the damnation of a countless number of souls resulting from those sins. As He had infinite love for His Father and His creatures, the sight of all those sins rent His Heart with countless wounds, such that if we were able to count all the sins of men, which are more numerous than the drops of water in the sea, we would then be able to count the wounds of the loving Heart of Jesus.
The second cause of His wounds is the infinite love of His Sacred Heart for all His children, and his constant vision of all the afflictions and sufferings that are to happen to them, especially all the torments that His holy martyrs are to suffer. When a mother watches her beloved child suffering, she feels the pain more keenly than the child. Our Savior’s love for us is so tremendous that if all the love of all parents were centered in a single heart, it would not represent even a spark of the love for us that burns in His Heart. Our pains and sorrows, ever present to His vision and seen most clearly and distinctly, were so many wounds bleeding in His paternal Heart: “Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured” (Is 53:4). These wounds were so painful and deep that they would have caused His death a thousand times over, even immediately after His birth, if he had not miraculously preserved Himself, because during His whole earthly life His Sacred Heart was continually pierced by many mortal wounds of love.
Therefore we have the greatest obligations to honor the gracious Heart that sustained so many wounds for love of us. We have potent reasons to fear new sins, thus giving him occasion to lament over us: “They have added to the grief of my wounds” (Ps 68:27). We ought to fear lest we be of the number of those of whom St. Paul says that they crucify Him afresh: “They crucify again for themselves the Son of God” (Heb 6:6). With what affection should we embrace and endure all our afflictions, out of love for Jesus, our Savior, since He first bore them for love of us! Should they not be most sweet to us, since they have already passed through His most gentle and loving Heart? What a horror we should have of our sins that have caused so many wounds and such intense grief to the divine Heart of our Redeemer!
We read in the life of St. Francis Borgia, of the Society of Jesus that one day the saint was speaking in front of a crucifix to a great sinner whom he was exhorting to be converted, but could not soften the hard sinful heart. Suddenly the crucifix, or rather the Crucified Savior, out of His wondrous and abundant goodness, spoke to the sinner and urged him to follow the advice of His servant. At the same time there issued blood from all His wounds. This was a sign that our Blessed Savior was ready once again to shed His blood and to die for his salvation if need be. But in spite of such miraculous goodness, as the wretched man still remained adamant, there issued a stream of blood from the wound at His side, which gushed over him and struck him dead on the spot. O God, what a fearful sight!
Let us learn from the foregoing example that it is not our Redeemer’s fault if we are lost. There are hearts so hard that, even if Jesus Himself were to come down from heaven to preach to them and they were to see Him covered with wounds and bathed in His blood, they would still not be converted. O my God, let us not be one of them, but give us the grace to open our ears to the voice of all the sacred wounds of Thy body and Thy Heart, which are so many mouths through which Thou dost call to us unceasingly: “Return ye transgressors to the heart” (Is 46:8), which means to My heart that is all yours, since I have given it entirely to you. Return to that most loving Heart of your Father which is full of love and mercy for you, which will receive you and welcome you home, heaping upon you all blessings. But redite, return without delay, completely, with all your affections. Leave sin, renounce hell, flee from all occasions of wickedness and embrace the practice of all virtues. Blessed are they who yield to that voice; cursed they who close their ears and harden their hearts like that unfortunate man just mentioned. “A hard heart shall fear evil at the last” (Sir 3:27). Evil shall be the lot of the hard heart; it shall perish everlastingly; it shall abide in wrath forever, and shall suffer inconceivable and incomprehensible tortures eternally.
O my Savior, I give Thee my heart; preserve it from this evil. O Mother of mercy, I give thee also my loving heart; do thou give it to thy Son, begging Him to rank it with the holy hearts that shall love the Son and the Mother forever!
The preceding excerpt is taken from St. John Eudes, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1946, pages 36-39, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org The Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary is a contemplative community of lay and religious dedicated to serving the Hearts of Jesus and Mary through Eucharistic Adoration, contemplation, and corporal works of mercy.