When St. Gertrude and St. Margaret Mary, several centuries apart from each other, encountered Jesus in visions, they both did something curious. Ears pressed close to Jesus’ breast, they listened.
And they heard a heartbeat. With rapt attention, they listened to the heartbeat of Jesus.
This is the act of a lover. When you are in love with someone, you want to know them entirely, to be one with them. In an exchange of spiritual goods, you want to live within the beloved, and you want that person to live within you. If you could locate one spot which somehow centered that other person, you would want to figuratively both step inside that spot, and also reach for it and hold it–tenderly and reverently–to place it deep inside yourself where it would be forever treasured.
For the human person, this spot is the heart. The heart is the locus of the “I.” And therefore to listen to the heartbeat of a beloved is to try to reach out and touch that “I,” to put your finger on another’s self, to cherish the sound, so to speak, of their existence.
This is what St. Gertrude and St. Margaret Mary sought in listening to Jesus’ heart. They were in love with their God, and were therefore spellbound by the sound of his heart.
But when you listen to a human heart, you notice something within it. You notice a wound. This is the case with every human heart. As soon as you locate it, you discover that it is broken and crying out in some way.
And Jesus’ heart is no exception. It is beating; it is alive. But it is also pierced. It bleeds. We ourselves pierced it, and now it flows and flows and flows.
But mysteriously, because it flows, the desire of the lover is answered. The lover, finding the “I” of the beloved, can do more than listen to the heartbeat. He or she can actually touch the very lifeblood which that heart beats and take it into his or her own self.
And when this happens, our hearts become like Jesus’ heart: filled with his blood. Because our hearts are also wounded, pierced like his, they too will flow – and flow and flow. But as they flow, they will spread the blood of the beloved wherever they go. And other hearts will in turn be transformed, and these also will flow.
And when the whole world is filled with our God’s blood, we will no longer need to strain our ears, listening for his heartbeat For we will be within him, within his Most Sacred Heart.
Image: Fernand Leger: Le Sacré-Coeur d’Audincourt