As a Protestant child, I was familiar with paintings of Jesus, but it wasn’t until age 13 that I saw an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The face of Jesus was familiar, but something unfamiliar graced his breast. The heart of Jesus was shown on the outside of his robe. Thorns encircled his ruby red heart, and flames and a cross crowned it. The image troubled me, and at the same time, intrigued me. I had no thought of converting to Catholicism at the time, but the image remained imprinted on my soul.
Now, decades later as a Roman Catholic, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become one of my favorite images and devotions. That beautiful heart — so filled with compassion and self-sacrificing love. I am profoundly moved by it, inspired by it, and drawn to it. And still, I am deeply troubled by it — but in a good way. It speaks of a mystery so vast and wonderful that it is almost more than I can bear.
The flames that crown the heart of Jesus come the closest to explaining it.
He burns with love for us.