Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is one of the most popular and powerful devotions in the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is “the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception.” God, who is love, loves with a human heart.
As followers of Christ, we want to know the heart of Jesus, we want to stay close to the heart of Jesus, and we want to love as He loves. A great model for us in what it means to stay close to the heart of Jesus is St. John, the ‘beloved disciple.’ In the account of the Last Supper, we read that St. John laid his head on Jesus’ chest. He heard the very beating of Jesus’ heart on the night He instituted the Eucharist, the priesthood, and foretold of His betrayal. And the next day he watched as blood and water poured out from Jesus’ heart upon the Cross.
Fr. Tim Grumbach recently stopped by Trending with Timmerie to discuss what St. John can teach us about staying close to the heart of Jesus, and how we can know Jesus better by knowing His heart.
In discussing how St. John laid his head upon Jesus’ heart at the last supper Fr. Grumbach said, “Sometimes we think of this as a moment of intimacy, but it’s also a moment of sorrow.”
“We can’t forget that there’s a real heaviness to this moment as well,” he pointed out. “John is asking about who will betray Jesus. So this isn’t just a moment of rest and closeness to Jesus, but this is maybe joining in His sorrow as well.”
It’s likely that John would have had his head close to the heart of Jesus even before this moment of sorrow. He had followed Jesus for years, and Fr. Grumbach pointed out that one could see John as almost like a little brother to Jesus.
“This would have been a position he was familiar with in his friendship with Christ,” he said. “And that’s why we can look, even to the point of the Cross, that while every other disciple has run away, John is there with the Blessed Mother and with Mary Magdalene.”
Being close to the heart of Jesus, then, involves not running away from suffering. Remaining close to the heart of Jesus gives us the grace and endurance to walk with and remaining close to those who are suffering, just as St. John did.
Knowing the heart of Jesus also means knowing Christ intimately. It allows us to know Him so well that we recognize Him even when He appears in ways we don’t expect. Timmerie and Fr. Grumbach discussed the Scripture passage of John chapter 21, in which the resurrected Jesus appears on the shore of Galilee, but the disciples at first don’t recognize Him.
It is John who first recognizes Jesus, and tells Peter, “It is the Lord!” A lesson to take from this is that we often don’t see God the way we want to see God, or we don’t let God love us the way we want to be loved. But the closer we remain to the heart of Jesus, the better we will be able to recognize Him, no matter what form He takes.
“Jesus is going to show us Himself, perhaps in ways that we weren’t expecting or ready for,” Fr. Grumbach said. “But we can take the posture of John, the beloved disciple, and put our hearts close to the heart of Jesus and listen for His heartbeat, listen for His breath. Then, when He appears to us in ways we were not expecting (whether that be someone living on the streets, or someone not easy to forgive, not easy to get along with, not easy to love) we would be able to see Jesus.”