Society is often skeptical of mystics and visionaries and demands proof that the mystic’s reports from their ecstatic trance are credible. When skeptics doubted the young Mexican peasant, Juan Diego, had really seen the Virgin of Guadalupe, The Virgin sent him back to the bishop with a miraculous cape that endlessly poured forth red roses as a sign of his veracity. For the young, 17 year old, crippled French mystic Margaret Mary, the proof of her brilliant visions of Jesus was an image of the Sacred Heart inscribed on a handkerchief.
With this relic Margaret Mary brought more than proof of her visions to the world. This image reaffirmed an ancient prophecy that began with Ezekiel even before Jesus born.
I will give you a new heart. I will put a new Spirit in your midst and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
This was the promise that Jesus fulfilled in his vision of the Sacred Dove and the rituals of communion that he enacted in ancient Israel. Jesus, unlike the religious society around him, believed all of us were born pure but that it took small, conscious rituals to turn “hearts of stone” (unconscious humanity) into true open and compassionate hearts.
The promise was not that God’s heart would become flesh, but rather to teach that Jesus’ heart and our hearts are the same–that God’s compassion and love is realized here on earth through a heart of flesh. Every person is made in God’s own image and likeness. Love of God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love of neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) are indivisible: love of God is love of neighbor, and vice versa. Symbolically this awakened heart is depicted as flaming with the deep, pure, intense love that comes through spiritual awakening.
Unlike John the Baptist who purified and cleansed through immersion in water, Jesus disavowed “cleansings” in favor of “awakenings,” conscious awareness and recognition for the heart to truly open and become one with Spirit. The ritual context for this opening was the feast (that is why there was a Last Supper–there were many more that preceded it). This ritual could be realized any where at any time, at any family table with a blessing over the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine. These foodstuffs were ubiquitous in the fertile region of Israel where Jesus lived.
Who knows, had he lived in South America, it might have been hot chocolate instead of wine, as it was for the ancient Mayans–Theobroma Cacao–chocolate, food of the gods. Chocolate has properties of Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) and PEA (the Love Chemical) both of which tend to open the heart and make it receptive to love and Spirit.
The image of the open heart that Ezekiel spoke about was shown to us for the first time by St. Margaret Mary some 200 years ago. But its promise was always there. In his Twelve Promises to Margaret Mary, Jesus tells us: open your heart, let it burn with compassion for your neighbors and love will pour into your open heart and you will know grace, peace and comfort in this, your blessed life.