Can you imagine how large the heart of Jesus must be? How patient, how loving, how gracious, how kind, how relentlessly unfathomable His mercy?
I wish I had a heart like that. A heart that could encompass the entire world. A heart that was large enough to love all I encounter, sincerely, truly, seeking the best in them regardless of how they respond to me.
My heart, tiny, puny, cold thing that it is, is impossibly small. It is not enough to envelope my students. It is not enough to embrace my family. It isn’t even enough to surround myself.
They frustrate me. I can be lead to feel defeated, disheartened, angry, annoyed, sarcastic, listless, bored, and on the verge of tears. My life is not based on teenagers, but I don’t think they quite realize how much of my life centers on them. For hours I am with them. My offerings are typically rejected because students (surprise!) don’t like homework and seem particularly prone to dislike even more “religion” homework. Because it is supposed to be easy. And Jesus is always the answer.
Part of me wants to lecture them for an entire class period–about how I don’t like grading their papers but I do it because it is asked of me. I don’t like their attitudes but I try to be forgiving without being a push-over. And I try to remain calm when they so flippantly assume that teachers desire them to fail and want to push them to the limits of sanity.
Why would I want that? I’m on the limits of sanity myself, how would an entire class of teenagers bordering on madness help me? One day last year, when the comments were more than I could bear, I asked them to think logically about what they assumed. Unless a teacher really derives pleasure from their pain, what benefit would we gain by making our students hate school? We are the ones that have to be with them all day, anyway. Why would we want to make them miserable and then try to teach them? The answer that they didn’t give me? The students feel better when they assume it is simply out of spite that we give them homework. That we challenge them, not because we desire their growth, but because we desire their tears. It’s an obnoxious assumption that I am certain I entertained as a high schooler. Now, on the other side of the desk, I see the ridiculousness of it all.
And this, readers, is why I need His heart. Mine is clearly too small. It gets annoyed at many things and subconsciously chooses favorites. It makes hasty judgments, harbors unforgiveness, settles for mediocrity, and all sorts of other vices.
They deserve so much more. They deserve a wide-open heart, one that has room for and welcomes all. They need a heart that is tender yet firm, tangible yet limitless, patient yet demanding, relational yet depths beyond imagining. They need Jesus. So until they understand where He is and that He is, I must be a witness of that heart of His.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, sanctify us.
“He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation, “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.” –CCC 478