By Jack Tuinier
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
During the month of February, our thoughts usually turn to expressions of love and other amorous acts of affection such as giving or receiving Valentine’s Day cards; bouquets of roses; and boxes of chocolate candy. Whatever one’s opinion about Valentine’s Day, each of us look for affirmation, acceptance and affection from others. It’s simply part of our human nature. Those are legitimate human needs that we desire. But have we ever thought about the fact that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ also desires to receive affirmation, acceptance and expressions of loving affection?
That might sound slightly odd – that Jesus would need or desire anything. Nevertheless, when the Second Person of the Trinity took flesh in the Incarnation, He assumed a fully human nature. The Definition of Chalcedon says that in the one person of Christ is united a true human nature and a true divine nature without confusion, mixture, division or separation. In other words, when the Son of God, who from all eternity possessed the divine nature, added to Himself a human nature, each nature retained its own attributes. The divine nature did not become human, and the human nature did not become divine. Neither were the natures mixed together such that Christ was a strange human-divine hybrid, neither truly human nor truly divine. No; Christ was and remains the God-man.
Therefore, in His human nature, Jesus also looks to receive affirmation, acceptance and affection from us. But how often do we actually give Him these expressions of love? Don’t we often come to Him and ask Jesus to give us something? How often are we even conscious of His presence? Unfortunately, at best, Jesus is maybe taken for granted – or, at worst, utterly ignored.
During the month of February, we see lots of heart shapes to symbolize human love. As far back as the ancient Greek philosophers, it was agreed that the heart was linked to our strongest emotions – including love. Curiously, whenever there has been a validated Eucharistic miracle where the host has turned into actual flesh, the subsequent scientific investigations of the substance have usually all concluded that the structure of the transformed fragment of the host was identical to the myocardial (heart) tissue of a living person who is nearing death. Thus, in the Eucharist, Jesus is giving us His heart!
In other words, Jesus is trying to show His affirmation, acceptance and affection towards us, His bride! Unfortunately, His gestures are more often met with unrequited love. Jesus has strong intimate feelings toward us; but often, we do not feel the same way. When this happens between persons, there arises feelings of profound sadness, disappointment and frustration – accompanied by a sense of rejection.
As Christ has a fully human nature, there is a way in which He still suffers when His divine love is not returned. It might be worth considering that, as we are being more intentional offering tokens of love to each other this month, perhaps we might also offer an act of love to our Lord Jesus Christ. “Jesus, I desire to comfort, unite and offer myself in union with Thee.”
Jack Tuinier is a Director of Youth Ministry and Faith Formation at Christ the King Parish in Ferdinand.