In Julian's Tenth Revelation, Christ on the cross gazes into the wound on his right side with a joyous expression. Through this shift in the focus of Christ's eyes, Julian understands that he is inviting her to enter mystically, through the open wound, into the depths of the Sacred Heart. It is such a magnanimous gesture, like the resurrected Christ showing his five wounds to Thomas and inviting him to touch and "do not doubt but believe” (Jn 20:27).
Yet it is even more intimate than that. Christ is offering Julian a profound insight into the abundance of divine love within his human heart. Her mind -- in deep contemplation -- passes through the physical cleft in his flesh into “a fair, delectable place,” a spiritual heaven, that is “large enough” not only for herself, but “for all mankind that shalle be saved to rest in peace and in love.” While he walked the earth, Christ had offered this same invitation: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). Here, Christ allows Julian to experience, very personally and very tenderly, another dimension of heavenly bliss: the ineffable joy of entering into the Heart of God.
Julian writes: And therewith he brought to mind his dearworthy blood and his precious water which he let pour all out for love. And with the sweet beholding he shewed his blissful heart split completely in two. And with this sweet enjoying he shewed to my understanding, in part, the blessed godhead, to the extent that he wished to at that time, strengthening the poor soul to understand what can be said: that is to mean, the endless love that was without beginning, and is, and shall be forever.
It is important here to distinguish between Christ’s physical heart, which poured out blood and water from the cross, and his symbolic heart as unconditional love, forever emptying itself and pouring forth mercy and grace. The physical piercing by Longinus with a lance split Christ’s human heart “completely in two.” By this act, Julian recognizes the Savior’s love being symbolically pierced by sin and apathy in every age. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed” (Is 53:5). The gaping wound from the spear in his flesh becomes the graphic image of Christ’s broken heart, which in turn becomes the spiritual dwelling place for all humankind. (Julian's Gospel, p. 374-5)
Christ's Heart Today
We have only to read headlines and look at television news reports of ongoing wars and impending wars to realize that Christ's Heart is still bleeding today, still split wide open by sectarian hatred and violence, as well as by disbelief and apathy. The split we see in Christ's Heart on the cross comes from our misdeeds today as much as it did over two thousand years ago. We continue to perpetuate the anger, the mistrust, the terrible wars, even as we cry "never again." As long as we fail to do everything we can to mend the deep wounds in our families and the divisiveness among our friends and co-workers, as well as to renounce all types of prejudice, injustice, and aggression, verbal or physical, we continue to split Christ's Sacred Heart.
Christ Still Bleeding
Is Christ still bleeding on the cross? Are not his passion and death finished, the salvation of all humanity completed? Yes, in ultimate terms, Christ cannot die again and lives now in resurrected glory. But as Julian understood so well, our salvation -- and the end of Christ's suffering on earth -- is not yet real and fulfilled for us. Hence, Christ still pours out his blood in the mystical re-enactment of the passion in the sacrament of Eucharist, in order that we might be healed and reach out to heal others.
And whenever we fall into sin and leave off the contemplation of Christ and the keeping of our own soul, then Christ bears alone the responsibility for us. And thus he stands sorrowfully and moaning. Then it belongs to us for reverence and kindness to turn ourselves hastily to our Lord, and leave him not alone. He is here alone with us all. That is to say, only for us is he here. And in that time that I am a stranger to him by sin, despair or sloth, then I let my Lord stand alone, inasmuch as he is in me. And thus it fareth with us all who are sinners. But though it be so that we do thus oftentimes, his goodness allows us never to be alone, but everlastingly he is with us and tenderly he excuses us, and ever keeps us from blame in his sight.
On this Feast Day of the Sacred Heart, let us turn to contemplation of Christ's Heart that always offers us love and forgiveness, "and leave him not alone." And with great care, let us attend to "the keeping of our own soul" in peace and harmony that we might begin to experience that same peace and harmony flowing out to our families, friends, and to all the nations.