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Today is the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. We all know that hearts appear everywhere when Valentine’s Day comes around. Images of real hearts, however, are more complex and sometimes not so pretty, depending on the presence of blood and the vessels that appear in the picture. We see blood as “messy” or “gory” and we forget sometimes how essential blood is to our life and how we can only live if our heart continues to beat.

On this feast we celebrate the heart as a symbol of what the heart does, of course, not how it is constructed. Presently, in some spiritual circles, there is a description of the heart as “the organ of spiritual perception,” essential to our growth in love. Although the writer of the First Letter of John did not use that denotation, he did understand deeply the significance of the definition. Here is some of the evidence from today’s lectionary:

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God…In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his Son into the world so that we might have life through him…Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another…God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in them. (1 JN 4: 7-16)

Take a moment of quiet and listen for your heartbeat. If you can’t hear or feel it, find the pressure point in your neck and just sense the love that is keeping you alive. Thank God for the life that is love, for the Love that is God. Remain in that knowledge, that grace, with each beat of your heart.