In the Pierced Heart

From the depth of our contemplation we are called to see the world through the Pierced Heart of Jesus, and there we encounter both the strength and the fragility of life... From our contemplation of the Pierced Heart of Jesus in the heart of wounded humanity flows the desire to commit ourselves with greater passion and compassion to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. ~ General Chapter 2008

The pierced Heart of Jesus opens our being to the depths of God and the anguish of humankind. ~ Constitutions, paragraph 8

There have been several times, in the past twenty-odd years, when I have found myself unwillingly experiencing the Pierced Heart. Sometimes I have lived in there, hollowed out and hurting, during bereavement or family illness; at others I have recognised that Heart in people or a situation I have encountered. For the past few days I have been living in the Pierced Heart, hollowed out and hurting - not because of pain or distress within my family or community, but because of events across an ocean and several time zones. And yet, in a way the pain, anger and distress are in my family, and my community - in my sisters and friends in and from the US, and in a world - my world - which has been battered and bloodied by Donald Trump's latest executive orders, and filled with fear and uncertainty. Syrian refugees, Muslims and others... we are all connected and interconnected, and all are with me in God's wide-open Heart, where there are no nationalities, border controls or travel bans.

Sometimes the Pierced Heart feels like a lonely place; but this weekend it has thronged with people, from every corner of the world.

This weekend I, along with millions, have signed petitions and tweeted and shared information... and prayed. And as I pray I see images, of stranded passengers and protesters, of lawyers working on airport floors and screenshots of racist commentaries, of reactions from around the world... and Trump as he signs the orders which are causing all this anguish. And I can see how the soldier must have looked when he pierced Jesus' side: gloating, self-satisfied, aware and uncaring about the effect of his cruelty on Jesus' loved ones  and the vulnerability before him; spurred on, instead, by the cheers of his friends, and the easy, cowardly triumph against a defenceless body.

In the Pierced Heart there are no easy answers, no easy ways out; only the hope and certainty engendered by that first and timeless piercing, and the torrent of powerful love it unleashed.

And in the midst of all this... normal life. Normal news and conversations, and, by some heavenly synchronicity, Sunday Mass readings centred on acting justly and protecting strangers and the oppressed, culminating in the Beatitudes. Quite late last night I saw photos from our sisters in Mexico, of the reception of two new candidates: two young women responding to a compelling call to give and live their lives for love; two young women beginning a journey into Love in a time of darkness and hate.

And along with the volunteer lawyers, the protesters and the politicians prepared to act with integrity, these two young women can remind us that yes, there is plenty of darkness in our world, but plenty of people prepared to shine a light. May their - and our - experience and contemplation of the Pierced Heart urge us all to commit ourselves with even greater passion and compassion to work for justice and fairness.


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