The Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy
Today I want to talk about the merciful heart of Jesus. Occasionally I am asked, "What is the difference between the devotion of the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy message?" First of all, we must realize the obvious—Jesus has only one Heart! And devotion to the Sacred Heart and The Divine Mercy are really inseparable. The Sacred Heart overflows with merciful love for us, and we are to overflow with love to others.
Pope Pius XI taught that devotion to the Heart of Jesus is "the summary of our religion." And in 1956 Pope Pius XII wrote in his encyclical on the Sacred Heart, "Consequently, the honor paid to the Scared Heart is such as to raise it to the rank—so far as external practice is concerned—of the highest expression of Christian piety. For this is the religion of Jesus which is centered on the Mediator who is man and God, and in such a way that we cannot reach the Heart of God, save through the Heart of Christ."
The devotion to the Sacred Heart calls for reparation of sin, and the devotion should lead us to a deeper understanding of His infinite love and mercy for us. Our Lord told St. Faustina, "My daughter, know that My Heart is mercy itself. From this sea of mercy, graces flow out upon the whole world. No soul that has approached Me has ever gone away unconsoled" (Diary, 1777).
And yet, when we look at the Image of the Merciful Savior, we see rays of Blood and Water emanating from the area of His pierced Heart. The rays are emanating outward—they are going out to a hurting world. That is perhaps one of the differences; the Sacred Heart enables us to get a deeper understanding of the infinite mercy and calls us to reparation, yet the Divine Mercy now calls us to live that message to a hurting world.
Our Lord asked St. Margaret Mary that the image of His Sacred Heart be honored and venerated by all the faithful. In His first apparition to her in 1673, He said, "My Divine Heart is so passionately in love with men that it can no longer withhold the flames of that burning love." And in a later apparition St. Margaret Mary wrote, "It must be honored under the symbol of this heart of flesh, whose image He wished to be publicly exposed....Wherever this sacred image would be exposed for public veneration He would pour forth His graces and blessings."
Now, I would like to emphasize another point. The Way of the Cross, of following Jesus in His footsteps, is not a cult of suffering. We are not to be so enamored by suffering that we go out and look for it. We do not have to walk in front of a car so as to injure ourselves. But we also know that this world is a valley of tears, and we are to pick up our cross and follow in His footsteps. I certainly have had enough trials and tribulations in my own life—as well as trying to raise six children—that I don't need to be looking for suffering!
What would you do if you won a cruise around the world? Wouldn't you call your family and tell all your friends? That is what we must do with the Divine Mercy message. So many people are hurting from the ravages of divorce, abuse, addictions, pornography, and more. They don't know where to turn or what to do next. They are like lost sheep waiting to be devoured by the world. And yet, the Divine Mercy message is also a message that needs internalization. It is about forgiveness, of truly trusting in God in difficult situations, and being merciful to others. It is about holding your tongue when you know you are right and are so angry. The Divine Mercy message is about love—for God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him.
So today, remember that you are a temple and vessel of the Holy Spirit. Let your actions be of God, and your heart be a heart of mercy, emanating the love of God to all you encounter. And avoid letting discouragement or anxiety enter your heart, and strive to be a reflection of the Merciful Jesus to all you encounter.