Alliance of hearts

Love God with your whole heart — and your neighbour as yourself,” said Jesus summarising the A to Z of dharma. The heart is a vital organ and a religious symbol, too. Mid-June, I’m reminded of three heart-feasts: (a) Sacred Heart of Jesus; (b) Immaculate Heart of Mary; (c) Father’s Day.
Many Christ-bhaktas, who don’t belong to any church, consider Jesus as the prem avatar: a manifestation of Divine Love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” said Jesus, before his sacrificial death, and resurrection, which was the outcome of God’s liberating love.
Christian art depicts Jesus’ love as a flaming heart pierced by a lance, crowned with thorns and capped by a cross on his chest. The feast of the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” — instituted in 1856 — teaches us that love is vulnerable. One who genuinely loves is ready to suffer, even die, that one’s beloved might live. Jesus represents God’s inexhaustible love for all.
The feast of the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” commemorates the fullness of human love for God. Mary isn’t a goddess as many mistakenly think. She’s an extraordinary woman who responds to God — and to those around her — with single-minded devotion and limitless love. “Mary pondered all things in her heart,” says the Bible, portraying Mary as the compassionate mother whose love overflows from profound union with God.
Pope John Paul II called the hearts of Jesus and Mary an “alliance of hearts” symbolising God’s love for us and what can possibly be the perfection of our love for God, respectively. And, gospel-writer John says, “Let’s love one another, for love is from God. Whoever doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.”
Indeed, it’s nonsense to speak of any love for God if we don’t love those around us.
Sufi mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan told his followers, “If anybody asks you, “what is Sufism” tell them: “Sufism is the religion of the heart!” Interestingly, the symbol of Sufism is a heart with wings representing the earthly and heavenly. Can’t Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Atheist and Christian hearts form alliances? Our minds understandably differ; but our hearts house love, loneliness, doubt, faith, despair and hope, common to all peoples.
Forget the head, enter the other’s heart! You’ll see there’s so much more in common with supposed “strangers” than you imagined before. That reminds me of my dad who taught me to cross the cozy confines of home to meet, know and love strangers. Sunday’s just-concluded Father’s Day should inspire us to widen the “alliance of hearts” to include everyone of God’s Family. May we experience union of hearts even as we delight in debating diverse minds.

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