“It is sometimes thought that devotion to the Sacred Heart can be rather individualistic — nothing but a personal relationship between me and Jesus.

But that is the opposite of the spirituality of the Sacred Heart. We see in Jesus a love for his heavenly Father that moves outward in this world to the love of neighbor.

Jesus draws on the Old Testament to remind us of the two great commandments of love: ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39) On the cross itself, the compassionate love of the heart of Jesus reaches out to console the criminal crucified with him. (Luke 23:39-43) It is not a love that is restricted to some safe place of religious piety: the love of the heart of Jesus encompassed the most marginalized in his society, symbolized by the lepers he healed. It is a practical love represented by the shrewd practicality of the Good Samaritan, who knew what to do to really help the man lying wounded at the side of the road. (Luke 10:33-35)

The Sacred Heart statues with outstretched hands challenge us to care for those most in need. The famous story of such a statue of the Sacred Heart, with hands blown off during battles in World War I France, speaks of this. When, after the war, the parishioners wanted to get a sculptor to repair the hands, a wiser person said: “No, leave it as it is, but put a sign on the statue saying ‘You are his hands.’ And so we are, extending the practical love of Jesus to others. Head, heart, and hands.”

— Archbishop Thomas Collins, Toronto, “Heart Speaks to Heart: A Pastoral Letter on the Sacred Heart of Jesus”