Be the Heart of Jesus

“Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine.”

(photo: Courtesy of Christendom College [])

During my high school years, I was blessed to live in a world a bit less bombarded by the overabundance of sound and images. While there are certain aspects I really appreciate about living in more modern times with the conveniences of global communications and the immediacy and accessibility of the internet, there are also things I miss about the simplicity and even slowness of life in high school that allowed for perhaps more vivid memories of even a particular image. 

“Son, give me thy heart.”

I think partly because of the lack of saturation of images, and also being in the early days of online communications, I recall, during my high school years, flipping through college viewbooks, newsletters and magazines while discerning where life might lead after graduation. One image that sticks out in my memory from that time is that of a stained-glass window from Christendom College’s Christ the King Chapel (Front Royal, Virginia). This stained-glass image is composed of an artistic rendering of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the words under this depiction of Christ, “Son, give me thy heart.” It is an image of Jesus beckoning to give one’s heart to his heart, almost an illustration of the motto chosen by St. John Henry Newman for his episcopal coat of arms — “Cor ad cor loquitur,” heart speaks to heart.

While I didn’t end up attending Christendom for college, I did visit there, and the stained-glass window and its message remain etched on my memory: “Son, give me thy heart.” This message is a quotation from Proverbs 23:26: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” An alternate reading that the RSVCE translation also gives is “let your eyes delight in my ways.” The Lord asks for our hearts and our eyes — our love and our attention. God calls us to pursue a relationship with him! In turn, this pursuit of him who is Goodness Itself, this giving to the Lord of our heart and our eyes, brings joy and “delight,” both in this life and in the next. 

A More Modern Image

More recently I came across another image on Facebook, a distinct but related one. In this more recent case, it was an image of some religious sisters tagged in a photo with a reference to the Heart of Jesus (possibly one of those in the following gallery). One meaning shared by the tag with the image was that these sisters provide the presence of the Heart of Jesus. With the creative expression of the Instagram world, providing a poetic reflection in the brushstrokes of a photo and a caption or tag, a moment worthy of meditation was conveyed. In the reality the artist’s composition communicated, the sisters re-present the presence of Christ, and provide a particular manifestation of Christ’s love in the world. 

This perhaps more fleeting image, so much so that the exact image remembered couldn’t be easily located in writing this piece, has provided an encounter with another call, one that isn’t as explicit as the previous scriptural one of giving the Lord our heart and our eyes mentioned above, but that calls the beholder to enter into the same dynamic that the sisters in the image have, to be the Heart of Jesus. 

A Synthesis

The call to give Jesus our heart and our eyes, our very selves, is not unrelated to that of being the presence of his heart in the world. The Lord calls us into the dynamic of a union of hearts, offering him our heart to be united with his Sacred Heart. Here one can also be reminded of the words of St. John Vianney speaking of the priesthood, but that can also be understood in the wider sense being discussed here: “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.” One can also think of the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). The call to be the presence and heart of Christ in the world is not merely a nice image but a truth. 

If the Lord calls us to be his heart in the world, by giving him our heart and our eyes — our very selves, we should consider the characteristics of Jesus and of his Sacred Heart to better imitate him in the world. Some of these characteristics are meekness and humility (Matthew 11:29), purity, mercy, love of the Father and zeal for souls. While this list is in no way complete, these characteristics can give us some idea of the model we are seeking to imitate, and virtues to cultivate in our own lives, of what it means to “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). 

As we seek to give ourselves more completely to the Lord and to be the presence of his heart in the world, let us draw near to him and spend time with him, resting in and abiding in his Sacred Heart, that we may take on the characteristics of his heart, a heart burning with love for the Heavenly Father and for souls. “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine.”