One of the earliest memories may very well be the pictures or statues of the Sacred Heart in our parents’ bedroom or over the side altar at Church. Their popularity can be traced to another Promise – that Jesus will bless every place where the image of His Heart is honored. Many artists since Margaret Mary’s time have sought to honor Him in a painting or sculpture or even through a film or television program.
While no one knows what Jesus looked like (the Gospels are remarkably silent on this point), Christians since the days of the catacombs have tried to depict Him reverently. Countless portrayals of Him have come down to us from centuries past and form a priceless spiritual treasury of Christian art. It seems important for people in every age to show forth the Jesus they know, to represent His love and mercy, His glory and majesty, in ways that inspire others to a hope-filled response.
Jesus appeared to Margaret Mary with His Heart aflame with love. He asked her to portray that Heart with a cross and crown of thorns that would remind people of His great love. Many people since then have found such an image a great help to their own faith and prayer life. They are reminded of the two great commandments to love God with their whole heart and to love their neighbor as themselves.
Of course, not every image of Jesus has the same meaning for everyone. We each have our favorites. We look for the Jesus who welcomes us when we are weary and find life burdensome and who sends us forth refreshed to help His kingdom come. It’s a tall order for any artist to fulfill.
Any portrait of Jesus is meant to help our faith. A picture or statue of the Sacred Heart in meant to deepen our love as well. When a particular artwork does not strike us in this way, we can best leave it to the devotion of others. But if an image of Jesus helps us live a better Christian life, then we will surely be blessed when we carry it with us or set it in a place of honor.