Theology is a word about God addressed to the world, a word about God addressed to anyone who will listen. The Sacred Heart, pierced in death, becomes a word of life for the world.
“Death, which by its very nature is the end, the destruction of every communication, is changed by Jesus into an act of self-communication; and this is man’s redemption, for it signifies the triumph of love over death. We can put the same thing another way: death, which puts an end to words and to meaning, itself becomes a word, becomes the place where meaning communicates itself”.
This means that after the mouth of Jesus fell silent in death, there remained the open side and the pierced Heart that speaks of nothing but love, the ultimate and everlasting word about God.
In the final analysis, one “impelled by the charity of Christ” (cf. II Cor 5:14) will have but one message, that of the pierced Heart revealing the love of the Father and “drawing all to himself” (cf. Jn 12:32).
One who has contemplated the message carved in the flesh of Jesus’ side by the soldier’s lance and learned to read it in adoration has but one language in which to speak to the world: the language of the heart.
It is learned not in conferences or classrooms or books, but in silence and in the contemplation of the Pierced One. It is learned especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The language of the heart encompasses a thousand local dialects, a million accents. Devotion to the Sacred Heart impels the Christian to an inventive charity, a charity ready to explore every dark and treacherous place in search of the lost sheep.
“Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame” (Lk 14:21). “The great gesture of embrace emanating from the Crucified has not yet reached its goal; it has only just begun.”
Word from God, Word to God, Word for the World
Word of God addressed to us, word addressed to God, word of the Church addressed to the world: herein lies one approach to a theology of the Sacred Heart. The liturgy remains its primary articulation. Together with the Liturgy of the Hours for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the 12 biblical texts provided for the Mass — a First Reading; Psalm, Second Reading and Gospel for each of the three years A, B and C — become a fundamental resource, an inexhaustible treasure waiting to be mined for every one called to hear, to pray and to offer the healing word that is the pierced Heart.
The Sacred Heart is the Heart of God laid bare for man: word from God. It is a human Heart lifted high on the Cross: word to God. It is the Heart of the Church open to all who seek, to all who thirst, to every lost sheep waiting to be found and carried home: word for the world.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the full and irrevocable message of the Father to us. It is everything we ever could or should need to say to the Father. It is all we have to say to one another and to the world.
Pope Benedict XVI, writing in 1981 as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, challenges us to nothing less: “In the Heart of Jesus, the center of Christianity is set before us. It expresses everything, all that is genuinely new and revolutionary in the New Covenant. This Heart calls to our heart. It invites us to step forth out of the futile attempt of self-preservation and, by joining in the task of love, by handing ourselves over to him and with him, to discover the fullness of love which alone is eternity and which alone sustains the world”.