HENRITZE: Embracing the virtues of the Sacred Heart

April 27, 2021

Herald file photo

Jesus Christ fully knew who he was. He never had to search out His identity or try on different personas in attempts at self-discovery. St. Thomas Aquinas asserted that Jesus fully knew He was the eternal Son of the Father from the moment of His incarnation, even if His human soul could not fully fathom what that meant when He was a child. This means that when Jesus speaks about the virtues of His heart, we can have confidence that the words He uses are chosen not at random but with great intentionality.

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, used two words to describe His Sacred Heart: meek and humble. With great tenderness, Jesus says to each one of us: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest in Me” (Mt 11:26-27).

In today’s world, meekness is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the virtues, and humility might be the most despised of them. Meekness — due to its unfortunate similarity in sound to weakness — has often been confused with it. Weakness, however, causes us to shrink away, while meekness causes us to stand firm in the face of our inner passions, which might lead us into sin.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his work the Summa Theologica, says that meekness gives you “moderation over the power of your passions.” I know all too well what can happen when I allow my passions to control me rather than serve me. Anger has the potential to be either my foremost weakness or my unrivaled strength. In seeking to imitate the meek heart of Jesus Christ, I am learning how to harness the strength of my anger, which, as odd as it sounds, helps me to more authentically love the people in my life.

Humility goes hand in hand with meekness. The latter helps you to have control over your passions, and the former allows you to realize that only with Christ is perfect meekness possible (Mt 19:16). One of these virtues can never be perfected while the other is ignored. Humility must be learned directly from the sacred heart of Jesus, a heart which was so perfectly united to the will of the Father that it was able to traverse every road of pain, suffering, obedience and of service that God will ever call you to walk down.

The human heart, which has learned how to be meek and humble by uniting itself with the sacred heart of Jesus, will burn brightly with the flame of the Holy Spirit. I wish the heart of every Christian were already ablaze with the unpredictable holy fire which burned before the dawn of the world. Perhaps then those who do not know Christ will see Him and know Him through our words and actions.

Oh Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine. 

Brian Henritze is an associate director with the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.