Heart in Sacred Scriptures
Sr. Faustina Maria Urena, sctjm
In Holy Scripture one can see the importance that is placed on the
heart, the importance of the condition of the heart of man and the
attributes of the Heart of God. We learn about God, who He is and
what He desires of His creation, by meditating on the words spoken
to us which come from His Divine Heart. God also takes a special
interest in the heart of man “in His eyes, the quality of a person
depends on the quality of his or her heart.”
the heart, what is the Heart of God and what is the heart of man?
Webster dictionary defines the heart as the whole personality
including intellectual as well as emotional functions or traits.2
The Encyclopedia of Catholicism defines heart as the locus of
emotion, passion and appetite; also primarily, the seat of
intellection and interior dialogue.3
In Semetic thought the word “Heart” signifies the interior life of a
In the Old Testament the word “heart” was used in its literal sense,
but more frequently it was used in the figurative sense. For
example: In the first book of Samuel chapter six, “Why do you harden
your hearts, as Egypt and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?”; in the
book of Deuteronomy chapter six, “You shall love Yahweh your God
with all your heart,... these words I urge on you today be written
on your heart”; and also in the prophet Jeremiah chapter thirty one,
“Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts.”
In the New testament we also see Jesus relating to the heart of man
in the figurative sense: In the Gospel of Matthew chapter five,
“Happy are the pure in heart: they shall see God”, also in chapter
twelve, “For a man’s words flow out of what fill his heart”; and in
the Gospel of Luke chapter five, “What are these thoughts you have
in your hearts?”, and chapter twelve, “For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be”. St. Paul also mentions the heart of man
at least in fifty occasions in his epistles.4
“The heart is the wellspring of life, and is the source of our
feelings and decisions, of our thinking and of what we want, what we
say and do: our external behavior is determined by this interior
Old Testament God is portrayed as a pure spirit and therefore had no
physical heart or body, but in scripture there are many instances
where the Heart of God is mentioned. It is the spiritual Heart of
God that is revealed to us, to communicate to the people of God His
truths, His attributes, His desires, and more importantly His divine
and merciful love for us.6
In the first book of Samuel chapter thirteen we read: “Yahweh has
searched out a man for himself after His own Heart”; in Psalm thirty
three it is stated, “Yahweh’s plans hold good for ever, the
intentions of His Heart from age to age”; and in the book of the
prophet Jeremiah, chapter forty eight, God himself says, “That is
why my heart sobs like a flute fro Moab” In the New Testament the
spiritual Heart of God has become Incarnate. Not only is the Heart
of God revealed to us spiritually, but also physically. On various
occasions Jesus speaks of His own heart, for example in the Gospel
of Matthew chapter eleven Jesus is quoted as saying, “Shoulder my
yoke and learn form me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you
will find rest for your souls”. St. Paul speaks of the Heart of
Christ explicitly, in one translation of the Holy Bible he states,
“For God is my witness how I long for you all in the heart of Christ
Jesus” (Phil 1, 8). St. John, the most beloved disciple of Christ,
also reveals to us the heart of Christ in his gospel, even though
“God who ‘dwells in unapproachable light,’ wants to communicate His
own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them
as His sons in His only-begotten Son. By revealing himself God
wishes to make them capable of responding to Him, and of knowing
Him, and of loving Him far beyond their own natural capacity”.8
As mentioned above the heart of man reveals his interior being, who
he is, likewise in the Old Testament, God spoke to His people
revealing who He was, “I am who I am” (Ex 3, 14). Therefore, it
would be logical to say that God revealed His Heart to His people.
God wished to form a covenant with His people, to redeem them, and
so He gave to them norms to follow, explicitly the ten commandments.
He did not only physically give them rules to live by, but He also
spoke intimately to His chosen people by way of His prophets.
Throughout the whole Old Testament, one can see how God wished to
communicate with His people, how He has set His heart on us. He has
set His heart on His people because He wishes to save them and give
them His merciful love. He is the one “who molds every heart” (Ps
If God molds every heart, then the human heart should only be
content when it is doing the will of his Creator. In the Catechism
of the Catholic Church we read: “The desire for God is written in
the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God
never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the
truth and happiness he never stops searching for”.10
Man never ceases to search for God who is love (1 Jn 4, 8) as St.
Augustine states, “for you have made us for yourself, and our heart
is restless until it rests in you”.11
The search for God initiates the moment we are created, but this
search can many times be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly
rejected by man.12
In the first book of the Holy Bible, the Book of Genesis, we are
recounted the story of creation. We learn how God created us and He
“saw it was good”. God created Adam and Eve in perfection and He
loved them. Immediately we see that man was given certain rules to
follow and that when left by himself to choose what to do, he goes
against the wishes of God, he turns away from His Heart. As creation
continued to expand and generations of Adam followed, God saw the
wickedness of the human heart and was saddened. The condition of the
human heart came to such great wickedness and rebellion against God,
that “Yahweh regretted having made man on earth, and his heart
grieved” (Gn 6, 6). What followed was the destruction of creation
with the Great Flood.
After the flood, man did not really change, he still did not wish to
comply with the Heart of God. “Yahweh said in His Heart... never
again will I curse the earth because of man, because his heart
contrives evil form his infancy” (Gn 8, 21). Soon after we see the
building of the Tower of Babel were we can clearly see the pride and
idolatrous behavior of God’s people. Because of their sinfulness
Yahweh confuses their language and disperses them over the whole
face of the earth (Gn 11, 8-9). For God was displeased with man, but
His love for them was much greater. God in His merciful love makes a
covenant with His servant, Noah. He tells Noah that never again will
He destroy the earth by flood (Gn 9, 11). In this covenant we also
see that it is a promise to reunite His chosen people; one day He
will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”
(Jn 11, 15).
In order to gather together his chosen people, God calls Abraham.
Abraham is a man who has been tested in his faith and has won
admiration from Yahweh. He is a man who trusts in God’s promises and
is obedient to His commands. God promises Abraham that He will make
him a great nation and bless those who bless him (Gn 12, 1-3).
Abraham will be the father, in flesh, of God’s chosen people,
through his descendants a great nation will be formed and one day
gathered together again.13
Abraham’s descendants “would be the trustees of the promise made to
the patriarchs, ...called to prepare for that day when God would
gather all his children into the unity of the Church”.14
book of the Exodus we are recounted the story of the people of
Israel fleeing from Egypt. We specifically are encountered with
Moses, a prophet who God chooses to fulfill the desires of His
Heart. In Moses one sees the response that all men should have
towards God. Even though he did not have the courage, he was
faithful to God’s will, which gave him the fortitude necessary to
lead the people of God out of Egypt. God revealed to Moses the
desires of His heart, and Moses responded by fulfilling them.
Through Moses, God gave the people of Israel, His people, the law.
He established with them a new covenant, so that they would
recognize and serve Him as the one living and true God.15
The Israelites did not have the same faith in God as did their
leader Moses. They were to live forty years traveling to the
promised land, and within those forty years there were many
occasions in which they turned away from God. They were “wandering
in the desert, but their hearts were equally wandering, not ready to
enter the way of Yahweh”.
Throughout their pilgrimage they broke almost every law that was
given to them in the Decalogue, at Mount Sinai. They did not trust
that God was going to provide all the needed in the desert, to such
a degree that they stated that they were better off in Egypt being
slaves (Ex 16, 3). They made a golden calf and reverenced it as a
God, they became an idolatrous nation (Ex 32, 4). It was a direct
sin against the first commandment. “I am the Lord your God, you
should have no God except me” (Ex 20, 2). This was not the first or
last time that the Israelites committed adultery against God.17
Some texts in Scripture that speak of idolatry are: “When Solomon
grew old his wives swayed his heart to other gods” (1 K 11, 3), and
“I hope to touch the heart of the House of Israel who have deserted
me in favor of a pack of idols” (Ez 14, 5). God’s chosen people
began to break the alliance that God had made with them. “I will be
your God and you shall be my people” (Lv 26,12).
Nevertheless, love is the victor over anger in Yahweh’s
compassionate Heart. This is clearly shown in the book of the
prophet Hosea, chapter eleven, verses eight through nine:
“Ephraim, how could I part with you? Israel, how could I give you
How could I treat you like Admah, or deal with you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought.
I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim
for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst
and have no wish to destroy.”
as seen in the book of Hosea, has been disloyal to God. God is sad,
disappointed, and angry with His People, because the more He called
to them the further they turned away from Him. “The more I called to
them, the further they went from me; they have offered sacrifice to
the Baals and set their offerings smoking before the idols” (Ho 11,
2). But anger does not prevail in God’s Heart, love does, “for I am
God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to
destroy” (Ho 11, 9). The Heart of God is full of love for His
people. He is the faithful, long-suffering husband who calls back
His unfaithful wife, the people of Israel, “behold I will allure
her, and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her
heart (Ho 2, 16). God not only calls back His unfaithful wife, but
He wishes to make a new covenant with her, a heart to heart covenant
with His people.
This new covenant did not yet take place. We see in scripture how
the people of Israel were still struggling to be faithful to the
desires of God. Jeremiah and Ezekiel, two prophets who lived during
the Babylonian exile of the Israelites, prophesied to the people of
Judah and Jerusalem that they would be destroyed because they had
broken the covenant made with God.
speaks to Jeremiah and tells him to tell the people of Jerusalem and
Judah, “I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I
solemnly warned them, and have persistently warned them until today:
Listen to my voice. But they did not listen to me, they did not pay
attention; everyone followed the dictates of his own evil heart. So,
I fulfilled against them all the words of this covenant which I had
ordained for them to obey and which they had not obeyed” (Jr 11, 8).
In the prophet Ezekiel we read, “As I live, I swear: my oath which
he has ignored, my treaty which he has broken, I will make them both
recoil on his own head.... I mean to take him to Babylon and punish
him there for breaking his covenant with me” (Ez 17, 19-20).
Once again we will see the everlasting love of God, for the God of
Jeremiah is a God who passionately loves his people, and who cannot
sit back and allow them to go astray. What they do matters to Him.
He not only invites them back when they go astray, but he lets them
experience the consequences of their evil deeds. The purpose of
allowing their suffering, however is not their destruction, but
repentance “Yahweh wants them to return to Him.”.20
Specifically in the book of the prophet Jeremiah we see how God
communicates to His people that He wishes to form a new covenant
with them. God tells His people that He will give them a new heart.
No longer will they have a “heart of stone”, but rather they will
now acquire a “heart of flesh”. Instead of an “uncircumcised heart”
now they will have their hearts circumcised. “Circumcise yourselves
for Yahweh; off with the foreskin of your hearts” (Jr 4:4). God
Himself will circumcise their hearts, so that they will be able to
The change of heart is presented as a gift given freely by God. A
gift which the Israelites did not deserve, but God’s Heart desires.
In Jeremiah chapter thirty-one we read:
the days are coming... when I will make a new covenant with the
House of Israel but not a covenant like the one I made with their
on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of
They broke that covenant of mine, so I had to show them who was
No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when
days arrive... Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on
Then I will be their God and they shall be my people... They will
all know me,
the least no less than the greatest.”
soon form the covenant within the hearts of His people. No longer
will stone tablets represent the covenant, now their lives will be
the testimony of God’s love for them. He will write the laws in
their hearts. They shall truly be God’s people and everybody will
It is a covenant distinguished form the old covenant, not because
the laws have changed but because of its radical interiority. “The
Lord will transform the minds of His people so that they will be
able to live in joyous harmony with His will”.22
Jeremiah did not explicitly mention the words “new heart” in his
prophecies, but this terminology could definitely be applied to the
words God spoke to His people, through him. It is the prophet
Ezekiel who explicitly mentions the words “new heart”. “Shake off
all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a
new heart and a new spirit” (Ez 18:31). The heart of stone is the
old heart hardened by sin. The new heart is a heart of flesh, a
truly human heart, pliable to the will of God, faithful to God’s
Law, open to God and tho one’s neighbor. In the book of Ezekiel
chapter eleven we see God making the covenant with His people:
Lord Yahweh says this: I will gather you together form the peoples,
I will bring you all back form the countries where you have been
and I will give you the land of Israel. They will come and will
purge it of all
the horrors and the filthy practices. I will give them a single
heart and I will
put a new spirit in them; I will remove the heart of stone from
their bodies and
give them a heart of flesh instead, so that they will keep my laws
my observances and put them into practice. Then they shall be my
I will be their God.”
prophet Ezekiel does not only speak of acquiring a new heart but
also of having a greater sensitivity to God’s presence within His
people. God promises that His spirit will dwell permanently within
his people (Ez 36, 27-28). God will give us this “new spirit” but
the people of Israel must also respond by consenting to the
transforming action of God in their hearts.23
In this prophetic book we also see the image of dry bones acquiring
life by the breath of God. “The Lord Yahweh says this to these
bones: I am now going to make the breath enter you, and you will
live. I shall put sinews on you, I shall make flesh grow on you, I
shall cover you with skin and give you breath, and you will live;
and you will learn that I am Yahweh” (Ez 37, 5-7). The people of
Israel are the dry bone, who after breaking the covenant with Yahweh
no longer are in His friendship and are at the point of death
because of their sinfulness. With the “new covenant” God will give
His people the breath of life, His spirit, His love in order for
them to remain faithful to the new covenant.
Throughout the history of the exile we see how it is a repetitive
story of God calling His people to repentance and to a covenant of
love with Him, and how the people of God answer His call but as time
goes by they fall back on their promises and turn away form God. Man
is unfaithful, but God is never unfaithful and He always searches
for those leaders and shepherds who will be faithful to Him, even to
the point of death, to bring His flock back to Him. “Yahweh has
searched out a man for himself after his own heart and designated
him leader of His people” (1 S 13, 14). In the first book of the
Maccabees chapter two, there is a listing of those who had a burning
fervor for the Law and gave their lives for the covenant with God.
Abraham, Joseph , Moses, Joshua, Caleb, David, Elijah, Hananiah,
Azariah and Mishael, and Daniel, were some of those who trusted and
did the will of God. “They are raised up by God, searched out, given
to the people; and they find their guideline in the Heart of God,
not merely in the tablets of stone”.24
One can say that around the second and first centuries B.C. ( before
Christ), the New Covenant began to really take effect, it was not
fulfilled, but history recounts for us that during this time a
number of God’s faithful became martyrs in doing the will of God.
“The book of Daniel is a textbook on martyrdom in the highest sense
of the term”25
and in the books of the Maccabees we are able to witness those
Israelites who truly were defenders of the faith and by obeying the
Law, praying and sacrificing themselves they lived for the Kingdom
of God and not for the world.
There were those who were killed for being faithful to God’s laws,
and yet the people of God were still lost in their sin. What else
could God do to lure His people back to Him? Would God give up on
His creation? Absolutely not! God’s love will be victorious even
during the worst infidelities. Not only did God receive the
martyrdom of His prophets for the salvation of His people, He became
the Martyr of martyrs. “The word became flesh” (Jn 1:14) for our
salvation. “The Word became flesh four us in order to save us by
reconciling us with God.”
For God is love” (1 Jn 4, 8) and there is no greater love, than he
who lays down for his friends (Jn 15, 13). God being of divine
nature also became human to suffer and die for His creation, to pay
for all the injustices done unto Him, to reconcile His creation with
In the New Testament the prophecies of the Old Testament would be
accomplished. In many instances in the Old Testament we were
foretold that a Savior would be born for the salvation of God’s
people. In the Gospel of Matthew there are cited to prophecies from
the Old Testament, Isaiah chapter 7, “the Virgin will conceive and
give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”, and from the
book of Micah chapter 5, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you
will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.” This savior
would be God himself, Jesus Christ the only Son of the Father. The
world would now be able to encounter the physical Heart of God. No
longer will God only have to speak through the hearts of His
prophets, now He will reveal to us His physical and divine Heart.
This Divine Heart will make its creation more conscious of its
sinful nature and attitudes, and either His children will ask for
pardon and mercy and find peace or they will reject Him and become
God came down from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit He
was born of the Virgin Mary. Now it was time for God’s promises to
be fulfilled, for the New Covenant to be accomplished and impressed
in the hearts of His people. Mary is the first of God’s creature to
enter into the New Covenant with Jesus. For as many of he Church
Fathers say Mary first conceived Christ in Her heart and then in Her
The Virgin Mary was the perfect creature God had prepared to
complete His promise of salvation. She was the Immaculate Virgin,
since Her conception, that would be the bearer of Christ to the
world. For Mary was a true joy in the eyes of God, She was the full
of grace, the perfect Virgin in the midst of a sinful creation,
because were sin abounded grace over abounded (Rm 5, 20).
For nine months She not only carried the Savior in Her womb, but She
let Herself be His instrument, the instrument of the Holy Spirit.
When she visited Her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth exclaimed, “Why
should I be honored with a visit form the Mother of my Lord? For the
moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for
joy” (Lk 1, 43-44). The child in Elizabeth’s womb was Saint John the
Baptist, who was sanctified by Mary’s visit to become the precursor,
sent to prepare the way for the coming of Christ, for the
establishment of he New Covenant.28
Yet, from His conception Christ, the son of God would also be
rejected by His people. When it was time for the Virgin Mary to give
birth, no one opened their homes to receive Her. The peoples hearts
were not opened to the Holy Spirit, they had hardened hearts. For if
their hearts were opened to God they would have recognized that
Christ was in the womb of Mary as Elizabeth did. Instead the people
of Bethlehem closed their doors to Christ, and the King of Kings had
to be born in a cold and humble manger.
Not only did God’s people reject Him when He was an innocent child,
but they even set out to kill Him. When Herod, who was the King of
Judah, heard from the Magi that the King of the Jews was to be born
in Bethlehem, he immediately wanted to visit Him. His intentions
were to kill Jesus, because this meant that his own kingship was at
an end. When the Magi did not return to Herod, he was furious and
sent an order to kill all children who were two years old or under
in Bethlehem and its surrounding districts (Mt 2, 16). This would
not be the first time that His people attempted against His life.
When Christ began His public ministry, He began to reveal His Heart
to His people in preparation for the entrance into the New Covenant.
Not only would He reveal His heart to Israel, but to all nations.
Everyone is called to enter into the Kingdom of God, but to enter
the Kingdom there had to be a complete transformation. Jesus says to
the people, “the time has come, and the kingdom of God is close at
hand. Repent, and believe the Good News” (Mk 1, 15). The “Good News”
which was Jesus himself, its messenger and its message.
Jesus states that He has not come to abolish the law of the Old
Covenant and the prophets, but to fulfill it (Mt 5, 17). He has come
to perfect the Law and bring it to its fulfillment. In the Sermon on
the Mount, Jesus reveals the hidden potential and demands of the Old
Law, He reveals their entire divine and human truth. He “does not
add new external precepts, but proceeds to reform the heart, the
root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and the
If one chooses correctly than they will be able to achieve the
beatitudes, which are the promises of the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus
has come to reveal to us the entire law which He calls the “new
commandment”, “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15, 12). He
who is love reveals to His creation that true happiness comes when
one learns to love God above all things and one another. God directs
the hearts of his people to its origin, for we were created out of
love, to love, and for love.
Many began to follow Jesus, some as the twelve apostles were called
to be with Him and participate in His divine mission. They were man
who had great faith and who would continue Christ’s mission on
earth. There were also those, that from the beginning of Jesus’
public ministry wanted to destroy Him. For example, the Pharisees,
partisans of Herod, priests and scribes. They were not content with
Jesus, for He used to expel demons, forgive sins, heal on the
Sabbath, had familiarity with tax collectors and sinners, and in
their minds went against the essential institutions of the Chosen
Jesus continued to preach the Good News with His apostles, healing
many who were sick, spiritually and physically, performing miracles,
and bringing many to a true conversion and faith in God. Christ was
preparing the way to complete the will of His Father. The time was
approaching for the blood of the New Covenant to be shed and for the
Heart of God to be completely revealed. It is Saint John the Apostle
who gives us a greater insight to this preparation in his Gospel.
Saint John was the beloved disciple of Jesus, he is the one that
rested on Jesus’ bosom, and he is the one to present to us the Heart
of Christ. The Heart that would become the source of living water,
the living waters that will purify the sinful hearts of men and turn
them into new and purified hearts by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament there are numerous accounts were flowing waters
are mentioned in reference to purification. Water is seen as a
symbol of life and fertility it represents divine life and God’s
For example: In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, God says to His
people, “I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed;
I shall cleanse you of all your defilement and all your idols” (Ez
36, 25); “Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty” (Is 55, 1);
and in the book of Jeremiah we see how God speaks of His rejection
by His own people, “they have abandoned me, the fountain of living
water” (Jr 2, 13). Water is often used to symbolize the third person
of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This is the promise that God
has given to His people, the promise of giving them a “new spirit”.
Jesus Christ will be the one to fulfill this promise at the
appointed time. In the Gospel of John, chapter 7, we see how Christ
himself reiterates the promise of His Father:
the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood there and
‘if any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and
drink who believes
in me!’ As scripture says: From his breast shall flow fountains of
living water. He
was speaking of he Spirit which those who believed in him were to
receive; for there
was no Spirit as yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
see in Jesus’ discourse with the Samaritan women as He proclaims
Himself the source of living water: “anyone who drinks the water I
shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give
will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life” (Jn
4, 14). Jesus’ Heart is the redemptive mystery, the source of new
life for all of us, we are invited to approach His Heart and drink.32
As stated in the previous quote it still was not time for the
glorification of the Son of God, but it was soon approaching and as
this time approached the Pharisees also grew in greater anger
towards Jesus. When it was time for the festivities of Passover the
chief priests gathered together with the elders and Caiaphas, the
high priest, “and made plans to arrest Jesus by some trick and have
him put to death” (Mt 26, 3-5). Jesus knew what was in the mind of
the Jews and in the last supper He said, “Father, the hour has come
glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you” (Jn 17, 1).
Knowing that His hour had come to return to the Father, in the
course of a meal he washed his apostles’ feet and gave them the
commandment of love. He also wished to leave them with a pledge of
His love, and therefore instituted the Eucharist so that He may
always remain with them.33
“The Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke
it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a
memorial of me’. In the same way he took the cup after supper, and
said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink
it, do this as a memorial of me’” (1 Co 11, 24-25). God gave His
total self to His people, He gave His Heart for the salvation of the
world. Many fathers of the Church and Popes have associated the
Eucharist as an immolation of the Heart of Christ for the salvation
of His people. Pope Leo the XIII is quoted in the Encyclical
Haurietis Aquas as saying that Our Redeemer performed the supreme
act of love, pouring forth all the riches of His Heart, when He
instituted the adorable sacrament of the Eucharist in order to
remain in our midst to the end of time.
The institution of the
Eucharist was Jesus manifesting his divine love for His people, He
said: “I have longed to eat this Passover with you” (Lk 22, 5). “For
‘not the smallest portion of His hear is the Eucharist which He gave
us from the overflowing love of His Heart."
So much was the evil in man’s heart, that at this most holy moment
where Christ was giving Himself to us, in the heart of one of his
closest friends, in the heart of Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’
apostle, the devil entered. Judas would be the one to betray Jesus
and turn Him over to the chief priests. He went to the chief priests
and said, “What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to
you? They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he
looked for an opportunity to betray him” (Mt 26, 14-16). Jesus knew
the intentions of Judas and that night He was troubled in spirit and
declared, “I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me...
[and then said to Judas] What you are going to do, do quickly” (Jn
Now was the time for Jesus’ glorification. When Judas had left the
table Christ said “now has the Son of Man been glorified, and in him
God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will
in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon” (Jn
13, 31-32). Soon after Jesus and His disciples went to Gethsemani to
pray. During Jesus’ prayer He accepts the cup of the New Covenant
from His Father’s hands, making Himself “obedient until death”.36
Christ is then turned over to the chief priests where He would be
questioned (Mt 26, 62-64) and by the cries and shouts of Israel, His
chosen people, Jesus Christ was sent to be crucified; “Crucify him,
Crucify him!” (Mk 15,14).
The Savior was crucified. Finally the Son of God completed the
mission He was sent for. He redeemed sinful humanity and paid for
all its offenses against God. The Son of God was glorified and the
Heart of God was opened in completion of the promise of the
covenant, “I will give them a new heart”, His own Heart. Saint John
the evangelist narrates the event:
they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead
his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and
immediately there came out
blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it-trustworthy
evidence, and he
knows he speaks the truth- and he gives it so that you may believe
as well. Because all
this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: ‘Not one bone of his
will be broken’; and
again in another place scripture says: ‘They will look on the one
whom they have pierced’”
(Jn 19, 33-37).
other scripture readings that prophesied the piercing of Jesus’
Heart are: the suffering servant in Isaiah, “he was pierced through
our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that
brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed”(Is 53, 5);
and from the book of Zechariah chapter thirteen, “When that day
comes, a fountain will be opened for the House of David and
Jerusalem, [to cleanse them from] sin and impurity”. The day of
cleansing is the day when men shall see the pierced heart, and it
was precisely on the day of crucifixion that the cleansing waters of
forgiveness and redemption poured forth.37
“The seeing of the Pierced one [was and] is a source of lamentation
which leads to faith, love and conversion”.
In the Old Testament blood was seen as something sacred, the seat of
life. It was forbidden to drink blood, instead it was used to purify
and cleanse from all faults and to consecrate and dedicate one’s
life to God. The blood of the victim atoned for the sins of the
The blood that poured forth in the piercing of Christ’s heart shows
that the “lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1,
29), has truly been sacrificed.
The piercing of Christ’s Heart was the completion of His sacrifice
for the salvation of Humanity. By seeing the Pierced One, whose side
is opened on the Cross, men are drawn to faith in love.40
exactly what happened to St. Thomas the Apostle. After not believing
that Christ had resurrected and appeared to the other apostles,
Jesus appeared to St. Thomas and told him, “put your finger here;
look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side.
Doubt no longer but believe. Thomas replied, My Lord and my God!” (Jn
20, 27-28). The Lord showed His open Heart to St. Thomas and also to
all humanity to strengthen our faith and love and to lead us into
the sanctuary of his love.41
Christ Himself proclaimed: “And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I shall draw all men to myself”(Jn 12, 32).
The promise of the “new spirit” was also to be completed. God would
send His spirit among His people, the Holy Spirit:
Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when
suddenly they heard
what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which
filled the entire house
in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that
seemed like tongues of fire;
these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They
were all filled with
the Holy Spirit.” (Ac 2, 1-4).
mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in
the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of he Holy
Spirit.” The Spirit prepares men and gives them the graces needed to
draw them to Christ. “The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them,
recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding
of His Death and Resurrection.”
Pentecost the Apostles spread out to take the Good News to the
people and to build the Church of Christ. “Go, therefore, make
disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of he Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all
the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to
the end of time” (Mt 28, 19-20). St. Paul is one of Christ’s
disciples that after a deep conversion, set out to teach the people
the ways of the Lord. He preached that all men had to be renewed and
become Christ like.
Many were converted. God
had deposited in the hearts of men the Holy Spirit, ( cf. Rm 5, 5)
and Christ abided in their hearts (cf. Ef 3, 17). In those who were
pure and humble of heart God manifested His power and presence. This
conversion would also require much suffering. All of the Apostles
and many of their disciples where persecuted and martyred because of
their faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. It was also difficult to
remain faithful since as Saint Peter warned in his second letter,
chapter 2: “you will have false teachers, who will insinuate their
own disruptive views and disown the Master who purchased their
freedom... there will be many who copy their shameful behavior and
the Way of Truth will be brought into disrepute on their account.”
Yet, the New Covenant was established and Christ had made a promise
to Peter, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.
And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it” (Mt
16, 13-18). At the end the Church, the Heart of God, will always be
The Catechism of the Catholic Church beautifully describes the Heart
of the Incarnate Word using a quote from Puis XII encyclical
Haurietis aquas: “Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his
life, his agony, and his Passion and gave himself up for each one of
us: ‘The Son of God...loved me and gave himself for me’ (Ga 2, 20).
He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, The Sacred
Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, (Jn
19,34), ‘is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of
that ... love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the
eternal Father and all human beings’ without exception” (# 478).
As we have seen throughout the Old and New Testament, God continues
to invite humanity to a communion with Him. He continues to reveal
His Heart to all those who wish to seek Him and fill the desire for
God which is present in all human hearts.
Even when man disobeyed
God and lost his friendship, He did not abandon him to the power of
death... Again and again He offered a covenant to man.
The last promise
recorded in the Bible that God made to His people, offers salvation
and hope for those who wish to seek Him.46
In the Book of Revelations, chapter 21, we read: “I am the Alpha and
the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water from the
well of life free to anybody who is thirsty... and I will be His God
and he a son to me.”
Hopefully we will be among the huge number of people that were
impossible for St. John the Apostle to count, standing in front of
the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and with
palms in their hands praising God. Hopefully we will be, among the
people who have been through the great persecution and have washed
their robes’ white again in the blood of the Lamb and who will never
thirst again nor the scorching heat will never plague them, because
the Lamb will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of
living water; and God will wipe all tears from their eyes (Rv 7,
1 Bovenmars, Jan G. A Biblical Spirituality of the Heart. Alba
House, N.Y., 1991; p. xx.
2 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Inc.
Springfield, MA, 1986; p. 1044.
3 Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Harper Collins. San Francisco, CA,
1995; p. 604.
4 O’Donnell, Timothy T. Heart of the Reedemer. Ignatius Press, San
Francisco, CA, 1989; p. 37-8.
5 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 1
6 O’Donnell, op. cit., p. 26
7 Ibid., p. 37
8 Catechism of the Catholic Church. Libreria Editrice Vaticana,
U.S.A., 1994, # 52
9 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 27
10 Cathecism, op. cit., # 27
11 St. Augustine, Conf. 1,1,1:Pl 32, 659-661.
12 Cathecism, op. cit., # 29
13 Duggan, Micheal. The Consuming Fire. Ignatius Press, San
Francisco, CA, 1991; p. 90-91.
14 Catechism, op. cit., # 60.
15 Catechism, op. cit., # 62.
16 Bovenmars, op. cit, p. 41.
17 Bovenmars, op. cit,. p. 47.
18 Ibid, p. 34.
19 Duggan, Micheal. The Consuming Fire. Ignatius Press, San
Francisco, CA, 1991; p. 106.
20 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 31
21 Ibid., p. 63.
22 Duggan, op. cit., 299.
23 Duggan, op. cit., 313.
24 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 37.
25 Duggan, op. cit., p. 486.
26 Cathecism, op. cit., # 457.
27 Nuevo Diccionario de Mariologia. Ediciones Pulinas, Madrid,
España, 1988; p. 1197.
28 Catechism, op. cit., # 523
29 Catechism, op. cit., # 1968
30 Catechism, op. cit., # 574-576
31 Sister Mary Jeremiah, OP. The Secret of the Heart. Christendom
Press, Front Royal, VA, 1995; p. 23.
32 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 98.
33 Cathecism, op. cit., #1337
34 Pope Puis XII, Haurietis Aquas. St. Paul Editions, Boston, MA; p.
35 Ibid., p. 41.
36 Cathecism, op. cit., # 612
37 O’Donnell, op. cit., p. 49.
38 Ibid, p. 48.
39 Sister Mary Jeremiah, op. cit., p. 24-25.
40 O’Donnell, op. cit., p. 48.
41 Ibid, p. 42.
42 Cathecism, op. cit., # 737.
43 Bovenmars, op. cit., p. 115.
44 Cathecism, op. cit., # 27.
45 Roman Missal. Eucharistic Prayer IV, 118.
46 O’Donnell, op. cit., p. 44.
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