by Cardinal Timothy Dolan
His Heart Is All That Matters
We all wonder about it at one time or another! What’s at the core of the universe? What is at the very foundation of existence? What power makes the world tick?
Those of us fortunate enough to study philosophy in college learned how thinkers through the ages answered those questions.
Or, those who enjoy the “great books” of our civilization, or literature, or poetry, find artists and authors pondering those fundamental inquiries about the essence of life as well.
Some have concluded that, at the core of creation is…nothing! Some scientists call this a “black hole”; some thinkers refer to this as “nihilism.” In other words, at the root of all existence is nada.
Others speculate that, at the nub of the universe, and, by the way, at the deepest part of the human person, is evil—raw, violent, power-grabbing badness.
We believers don’t buy either of those two answers, that nothing or that evil is at the gut of reality.
Although, we admit, we’re sure tempted to at times. If we read of one more school shooting, hear of one more death by a drug overdose, or look at the devastation by yet another killing, hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, or earthquake, we ask if an evil force, or big empty meaningless void is at the center of it all.
Those with faith and hope are steadfast in our rock solid conviction that, at the center of it all, is…a heart! Hear me out…
Actually, we Christians (and Jews, Muslims, and Eastern religions) hold fast to the Bible’s teaching that God, a loving Father and Creator, is the deepest power in the universe.
God revealed Himself as one-in-three, a blessed Trinity, one God, in three divine persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Here is the driving force of all reality.
The second person of this Trinity, God the Son, took flesh and became one of us. (We call this the Incarnation.)
Thus, our God, the core of the universe, has a name, Jesus; and this Jesus has a heart.
I bring this up, not only because it’s awesomely good news, but because, in our Catholic calendar, the month of June is dedicated to this heart of Jesus. In fact, tomorrow (Friday, June 8) is the moving feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Picture that image of the Sacred Heart: Jesus, with His heart exposed. It is on fire with love, compassion, tenderness, meaning. Yet, it is broken (as all hearts are at one time or another) surrounded by a crown of thorns, bleeding over the harshness of a world that prefers an existence of nothingness or hatred to one of love and mercy.
It can be trying to believe that the Heart of God beats at the center of all reality.
But, to conclude that emptiness, raw evil, and viciousness are the defining features of life is even more tragic.
When we want to get to the bottom of something contentious, we often ask, “What’s the heart of the matter?”
That’s what we wonder about life, the world, the universe. For us, the “heart of the matter” is, in fact, a heart, the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Pope St. John Paul II commented, “Jesus is the answer to the question posed by every human life.”
After all, He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Whether or not I understood this prayer when I learned it in second grade, I’ve recited it every morning since then. It confesses our belief that it’s all about Him, He’s in charge, He knows what He’s doing, and that, in the end, His heart is all that matters!
All for Thee, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in your love for me!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, your kingdom come!