Make my heart like unto Thine

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine. You've probably heard of or maybe even prayed this sweet prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but have you ever followed its consequences to realize what it's actually saying?

"One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (John 19:34). This is what happened to Jesus' heart. His heart was wounded and from it spilled out his whole life. Beautiful, yes, but it also left Him profoundly vulnerable and weak. Is this really that for which I want to pray?

Actually, in one sense, it's already happened to me. I was born with a heart valve that couldn't quite pump enough blood through it to keep me alive, so I had open heart surgery to correct it at the tender age of three days. The surgery left me with a functioning aorta, but also scar tissue and blood leakage from my aorta backwards into my left ventricle. As I grew up, I experienced no symptoms or major limitations, but two years ago, I had to come face to face with my weakness. A new cardiologist became alarmed at the amount of leakage I was experiencing and put me through an MRI scanner and onto a treadmill to prove my heart's ability to handle it. I came through it alright, but not before I learned my utter dependency on my Father.

Every time I walk out of my annual cardiology check-up, I carry a paper that reads: "Diagnosis - congenital insufficiency of aortic valve." Insufficiency. Not enough. Inadequate. Poor.

"Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), Jesus says. He, too, has a lowly heart, a poor heart. Throughout his life and especially on the cross, He also, as a human person, lived this poverty and dependence on his Father in heaven. Only when He received everything from the Father could then his own heart leak it out onto all of us poor ones from the cross.

I happen to have this physical condition that shows me how to have a heart like Jesus', but isn't it true that each of our hearts--"our hidden center" as the Catechism calls it--is also insufficient, pierced, and leaky? Without God, we are incapable of holiness. Without his grace, we are incapable of love. He did it with the dead body of Jesus, so why can't the Father use each of us to pour out His living water on the thirsty, to all those needing to believe in a merciful God? Jesus said, "He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

God always chooses what is weak in this world. He chooses a little piece of bread to become His true presence in the Eucharist. He chooses a poor, little, ordinary girl to bear Christ. He chooses me with the leaky heart, you with your particular weakness, to be his heart for the world. God's ways are unfathomable. Someday we'll find out why; for now, let us be content to let Him use us in our insufficiency.

-Sr. Mary Gemma, T.O.R.

"Is Jesus really our first and only love, as we promised he would be when we professed our vows? Only if he is, will we be empowered to love, in truth and mercy, every person who crosses our path. For we will have learned from Jesus the meaning and practice of love. We will be able to love because we have his own heart."


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