Our hearts are complicated and fascinating. If we listened more regularly to their beats, we would all be gentler with ourselves and would find our lives more interesting. But the danger is that we take our heart-beats for granted, until one day, they show symptoms of malfunction.
That’s also the secret of our relationship with Christ. If only we could keep a stethoscope to the Heart of Jesus, and listen to its complex and fascinating rhythms, our lives would be changed for sure! How do we do this?
In the Gospel of John we have a mystical image for this. In John’s account of the Last Supper, he has a disciple, whom he describes as “the one whom Jesus loved”, reclining on the chest of Jesus. Obviously this connotes a deep intimacy, but it’s also meant to convey something else. If you rest your ear on someone’s chest, you are able to hear that person’s heartbeat and that sound eventually begins to gently reverberate throughout your own body.
Many scholars would suggest that “the one whom Jesus loved” in John might have been John himself. As we know today, this name-less disciple is meant to refer to every one of us. Each of us is to be the “beloved disciple”, the one who reclines on Jesus’ breast in a special intimacy. For John, this constitutes the very heart of discipleship and everything else (charism, church office) is less important. Indeed, at the Last Supper, Peter cannot even talk to Jesus directly, but must ask his question about the one who would betray him, through the “beloved disciple”. That’s John’s way of saying that intimacy with Jesus is more important than any charism or leadership role.
And that’s our call, to have the kind of intimacy with Christ that has us reclining on His breast, hearing His heartbeat and looking out at the world from that perspective. When we are listening to Christ’s heartbeat, feeling His comfort, and looking out at the world from there, we will also more easily find the strength to keep our hearts soft when everything beckons us to be hard, our tongues gentle when everything is gossip and slander and ourselves aware of others’ gifts when all around there is jealousy.
We will more easily find the capacity to forgive despite our wounds, to live in chastity inside an over-stimulated culture, to see beauty inside chaos, to see the sacred inside of the apparent evil, and to remain aware of God’s presence inside a godlessness that sometimes overwhelms us.
Our sensitivity must be a stethoscope that hears the beat of the complex and fascinating Heart of Christ. A Heart that cries for the poor; A Heart that is moved by the plight of the refugees and a Heart that cares for each of us His brothers and sisters
Come close to Christ; sup with the Saviour; see His smile; lean on the Lord; hear His heartbeat; delight to be His disciple.
By Fr Jose Cherukara CMF
Fr Jose is a Claretian full time missionary, based in Hong Kong. He is the Editor of the diocese’s newspaper Sunday Examiner and a member of the advisory board of Christian programming for Radio and Television Hong Kong. Fr hosted the much popular programme Minutes that Matter, for RTHK. Listen to video commentaries by Claretian priests, in Italian and English: https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com