Why Devotion to the Sacred HEART of Jesus?

Why do Catholics have devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? I call this “cordial devotion” (from the Latin cor, cordis meaning “heart”). English words such as “cordially” mean “heartfelt,” and our word “core” meaning “center” also comes from this Latin word.
What Did the Heart Signify to the Jews?
The human heart is considered to be the symbolic center of the person and as such is signifies the will. When we are excited or scared our heartbeat rises. In times of stress or sorrow, we can feel a pain in our chest.
In the Old Testament and in Hebrew idiom, the “heart” (Hebrew: leb) is often used as a synonym for the “soul.” For example:

“My heart is troubled, my strength hath left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.” (Psalm 37:11, D-R)

In fact, most languages parallel this usage. Now don’t think that ancient people were entirely ignorant of human anatomy. They new full well that the heart was a vital organ responsible for human animation. For example:

“But early in the morning, when Nabal had digested his wine, his wife told him these words, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.” (1 Samuel 25:37, D-R)

In Hebrew, the heart also signifies the human conscience. For example, the heart “smites” David (2 Sam 24:5). Likewise in the New Testament, as in 1 Jn 3:20, where the Apostle speaks about “whenever our hearts condemn us.” Thus, the heart functions as the seat of the moral life. This is why the Bible is so fond of the phrase “pure of heart” (Hebrew: bar lebab). Moreover, the natural law is “written on our hearts” (Rom 2:15).
Is the Sacred Heart Devotion Biblical?
No doubt, Protestants sometimes take objection to “heart devotion” saying that it is odd to have devotion for a “body part” of Christ our Lord
How do we respond?
The Heart of God in the Old and New Testaments
The theme of “God’s heart” emerges in First Temple Judaism, particularly with the advent of King David – the royal type of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Although the Jews did not believe that God had a human body, the Scriptures speak as if God had a heart. For example, God seeks holy ones who “seek after his own heart” (1 Sam 13:14).
Likewise, God wants priests who seek the heart of God:
“I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind” (1 Sam 2:35). Sin wounds the heart of God (Lam. 3:33). God’s heart is also depicted in Hosea 11:8 “my heart recoils within me.”
H.W. Wolff explains, “God’s heart, his free resolve of love, turns against his decision of anger. So Hosea promised that decision in the heart of God which has been sealed for all nations in Jesus Christ.”{1}
The fact that God was made man in our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Old Testament expectation for that tender heart of God toward mankind. No longer is the “heart of God” an anthropomorphic analogy. In Christ, the heart of God lovingly beats for us.
Thus, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is truly devotion to the Divine Mercy of God. This is why images of the Divine Mercy reveal blood and water flowing from His Sacred Heart. Likewise, devotion to the Immaculate Heart reveals how Mary the Mother of God is also the Mother of Mercy and that her heart is perfectly united to the merciful mission of her Divine Son. As the New Adam and New Even, the hearts of Jesus and Mary reveal the redemptive love of God for each of us. This is why God is intent in inspire devotion to the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary. This is why the message of the Immaculate Heart stands at the center of the messages of Our Lady of Fatima.
When Christ was crucified and the spear pierced his Sacred Heart on the cross, so also a sword pierced Mary’s Immaculate Heart. This twin piercing is the hope of all Christians in the last ages. My guess is that this is why there is an increase in devotion and awareness toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. The greatest devotion in this regard is First Friday Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart and First Saturday Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy us.
PS: Canterbury Tales blog is solemnly consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (scroll down to see it).
{1} H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the OT (Engtr 1974), p. 58.

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