Innumerable reasons urge us to offer our worship and honor to the Sacred Heart of our most adorable Savior with extraordinary devotion and reverence. All these reasons are embodied in the words of St. Bernardine of Siena, who calls this loving Heart: “A furnace of ardent love to enkindle and inflame the whole universe.” (1) Most certainly the admirable Heart of Jesus is a furnace of love for His Divine Father, for His Blessed Mother, and for His Church Triumphant, Militant and Suffering, and also for each one of us.
Let us consider, first of all, the most brilliant flames of this great furnace of love for the Eternal Father. What mind can conceive and what tongue express the tiniest spark of this illimitable flaming furnace of love for His Father? It is a love worthy of such a Father and of such a Son. It is a love that most perfectly equals the ineffable perfections of its beloved object. Here is a Son infinitely loving a Father who is infinitely lovable, a God loving a God. Here is love in its very essence loving eternal love: a love that is boundless, incomprehensible, infinite, passing all limits, and loving in turn a love that is boundless, incomprehensible, infinite, and passing all limits. In a word, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whether considered in His divinity or in His humanity, is more ardently enkindled with love for His Father, loving Him infinitely more at any given moment, than all the hearts of angels and saints together can love Him throughout all eternity.
There is no greater love than to give one’s life for the person one loves. The Son of God so loves His Father that He would be ready to sacrifice His own life again, as He sacrificed it upon the Cross, and to sacrifice it by suffering the same torments for the love of His Father (if such were God’s holy will) that He suffered on Calvary. Since His love is boundless, He would be ready to lay down His life throughout the whole universe as He did upon Calvary. Since His love is eternal and infinite, He would be ready to make this sacrifice over and over again, if it were possible, and with infinite suffering.
“O Divine Father, Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the whole world, there is no one so lovable as Thou. Thy manifold and infinite perfections, and the unspeakable blessings Thou hast in store for all Thy creatures, place upon them endless obligations to serve, honor and love Thee with all their strength. Yet there is no one in the whole world who is so little loved as Thou, no one who is so scorned and insulted by most of Thy creatures. Oderunt me et Patrem meum. ‘They have hated both me and my Father,’ (Jn 15:24). Jesus Thy Son has said, ‘without cause they have hated me. I have never done them any harm but have lavished on them all manner of good’: Odio habuerunt me gratis (Jn 15:25). I behold hell filled with an untold number of the damned, ceaselessly venting their multitudinous blasphemies against Thy divine majesty. I behold the earth filled with unbelievers, Jews, heretics, and false Christians who treat Thee as if Thou wert their archenemy.”
“But two thoughts are my consolation and joy. The first is that Thy perfections and Thy splendors, O my God, are so admirable. Thou dost take so great a pleasure and so perfect a satisfaction in the infinite love of Thy Divine Son and in all that He hath suffered with that infinite love, to repair the injuries that Thy enemies have striven and still strive to do Thee, that they have not been able or ever will be able to detract the least iota from Thy glory and Thy felicity.”
“The second joyful thought is that Jesus, Thy Well-beloved Son, by His incomparable overflowing goodness willed to be our Head and chose us to be His members. He has associated us with Himself in His ineffable love for Thee. He has given us as a result the power to love Thee with the same love wherewith He loves Thee, with a love eternal, boundless, and infinite.”
To understand this truth well, take note of three important facts. First, the love of the Son of God for His Heavenly Father, being eternal, does not pass away, but remains forever, stable and abiding. Secondly, the love of the Son of God for His Father fills all things by its immensity; consequently it abides in us and in our hearts: Intimo meo intimior, as St. Augustine says. Thirdly, as the Father of Jesus has given us all things in giving us His Son—cum ipso omnia donavit (Rom 8:32)—the love of the Son of God for the Father belongs to us, and we can and must make use of it as a possession that is ours. On this basis, I can, with my Savior, love His Divine Father and mine, with the same love wherewith He loves Him; with a love which I can put into practice, thus:
“O my Saviour, I give myself to Thee to unite myself to Thy eternal, boundless, and infinite love for Thy Almighty Father. O Adorable Father, I offer Thee all the eternal, boundless, and infinite love of Thy Son Jesus as a love which is mine. Just as our lovable Savior says to us: Sicut dilexit me Pater, et ego dilexi vos, ‘As the Father hath loved me, I also love you,’ (Jn 15:9) I may say to Thee: ‘O Divine Father, I love Thee, even as Thy Son loveth Thee.'”
The Father’s love for the Son is no less mine than the Son’s love for the Father; therefore I can make use of it, thus:
“O Father of Jesus, I give myself to Thee to be united to Thy boundless and eternal love for Thy Beloved Son. O my Jesus, I offer Thee all the eternal, boundless, and infinite love of Thy Father, and I offer it to Thee as a love which is mine.” In this way, as our loving Redeemer says to us: “I love you as my Father loveth me,” I can say in turn to Him: “I love Thee, my Savior, as Thy Eternal Father loveth Thee.”
O ineffable goodness! O wondrous love! What bliss for us that the Eternal Father gives us His Only-begotten Son, and with Him all things else! He gives Him to us not only to be our Redeemer, our Brother, and our Father, but also to be our Head. What a privilege to be members of the Son of God, to be one with Him, as the members are one with the Head, hence to have but one spirit, one heart, one love with Christ, and thus to be able to love His Divine Father, and our Father, with one and the same Heart and love!
It is, therefore, not surprising that, speaking of us to His Heavenly Father, Our Lord says: Dilexisti eos sicut et me dilexisti, “Thou hast loved them as Thou hast also loved me,” (Jn 17:23) and He implores Him to love us always: Dilectio, qua dilexisti me, in ipsis sit (Jn 17:26). If we love the Father as His Son loves Him, He loves us as He loves His Divine Son. He beholds us in His Son as members of Christ who are but one with the Son and love the Father with the same filial love. Truly He loves us with one and the same Heart and love wherewith He loves His Son.
Would that heaven and earth and all creatures might be changed into a pure flame of love for the Father of goodness and for the only Son of His divine delight, as St. Paul calls him: Transtulit nos in regnum Filii dilectionis suae! (Col. 1:13).
The preceding excerpt is taken from St. John Eudes, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, P. J. Kenedy and Sons, 1946, Chapter 1, 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.
(1) Sermon 514, de Passione Domini, p. 2, tit. 1.