There are times when St Thomas Aquinas sounds almost modern. “But it is said that God tries man, not that he might learn man’s condition, but that he might make man to know himself and others (Jb7).”
This is the conclusion of the MAGNIFICAT meditation for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart which falls on Friday this week. God lets us undergo trials not in order to show us up, but in order that we might be transformed: that we might grow. Not randomly, but according to his image.
In the formation of a mature conscience, it is important to know yourself. In getting along with others, we need to know who we are dealing with. And yet if we rely on mere psychology, our knowledge will tend to be reductive and inadequate, because it is missing a crucial element: the presence of Christ. Whatever images we might have of God in our heads, the core of the Christian faith revolves around the fact that God has a heart, as the reading from Hosea on this feast demonstrates.
“My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again, for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy.”
What an extraordinary image: the trembling of God’s being! Reading the Gospels, we glimpse this over and over again, as Jesus looks on the wounded, the afflicted, the crippled, with those eyes of compassion, that heart melting with love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart surely has this at its core: an irrepressible longing to participate in that holy reality, to fully accept the heart of flesh that God offers us, in place of our hearts of stone.
Leonie Caldecott is the editor of MAGNIFICAT UK and Ireland
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