The Theology of the Heart of Jesus: Part II

My work on reading and translating Alfred Delp’s prison writings on the devotion to the Heart of Jesus has been delayed due to being asked to take over a parish while the pastor is away. I did not have the opportunity to sit and read until this afternoon.

Delp’s attempt to connect the word “searching” with the “redemptive will of God” caught my attention. He provides an image of a restless God, who is not content with the status quo. What also caught my attention was his deliberate effort to connect the heart of Jesus with the person of Jesus. This is not a disincarnate spirituality, but concrete and existential one!

Berlin-Tegel Prison

Sacred Heart 4The language of the theology of devotion is the language of love. Many good theologians, who are like the rationalists, dread to take the expression of the heart into their mouths.

Whoever really cared for someone do not need lengthy considerations on the heart as a symbol of feelings for others. One knows what to  say, “You good heart. You love!” And so one can believe: what can truly go against goodness, genuineness, faithfulness, and commitment. Something similar applies here [in the devotion to the heart of Jesus].

The devotion concerns the reconnection of the inner desires and stance of Christ towards humanity: Jesus Christ as the incarnate redemptive will of God, as the renewing redemptive will of God, as that calling and searching redemptive will towards humanity…

The call of the personal God happens for two reasons: (1) for healing; (2) for the interior conversion to the form of Christ, i.e. to have the willingness and capacity to become effective and fruitful instruments of the redemptive and searching salvific will of the Lord.

From here comes the thoughts of atonement, satisfaction, etc. The desires of Christ renew and fulfill, the desires transform and join us to Christ.

I have spoken of the renewal in Christ, which happens in this devotion. This means two things. Firstly, a rediscovery of the theological Christ as the God-man. This does not suggest a call for a doctrinal rediscovery, but a practical and devotional one.  People of religious consciousness should not just appeal to the Christ of history, who performed good deeds. One compares the image of Christ which was shown in Goethe’s “Poetry and Truth” to the farthest of German circles, with that what is meant here, and one understands the distinction.

Sacred Heart contemporary iconThis is at the same time about another rediscovery: that of the person of Christ. The fact that the complete theological fullness, the whole divine purpose, the uniqueness of humanity revealed themselves in an incredible richness in the desires and stance of Christ.

The message of the this devotion arguably is that the fullness of salvation exists in the person of Christ; it is realized in the redemption caused by Jesus Christ – affirmed, approved, and carried out as a desire of Christ for humanity.

Here now it becomes apparent, that this twofold rediscovery of Christ concerns a renewed announcement of the message of God and his desires for relationship with humanity in contemporary time. It is God’s rescue of the human species within and beyond the church.

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