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In our last article, we looked at the way God wants to purify us, and we compared his work to a refiner’s fire that purifies gold and silver. In this article, we want to look at a different kind of refining. We want to look at how Jesus wants to melt our hearts with his love. We want to look at how our experiences of Jesus can soften our hearts so that he can mold us more fully into his image.
Have you ever noticed how softhearted people can be? It seems that whenever anyone sees an act of extraordinary kindness or generosity, their heart melts. Every time someone surprises their spouse with an unexpected gift, a heart melts. Every time a dear friend goes out of their way to help us or speaks words of encouragement to us, our heart melts. Gestures like these touch us and make us want to be more loving and generous as well. Love begets love—not because we feel the need to even the score, but because our hearts melt in the presence of love, and we are moved to imitate the love we are experiencing.
Encountering Perfect Love. Whether it be a married couple, dear friends, or brothers and sisters, one point is true: even the best relationships have their flaws. Spouses who genuinely love each other can still hurt each other, even if unintentionally. A person can be so caught up in her life that she neglects to look in on a friend suffering from an illness. A young man can resort to manipulation or deception in order to look good before his parents instead of being honest and forthright.
How different this is with Jesus! He loves perfectly, flawlessly. He never makes a hurtful comment, he never deceives, he is never self-centered or arrogant. Because his love knows no bounds, it also has the power to melt our hearts more than any other love we can experience. So how do we encounter this love? How can we experience Jesus so that he can melt our hearts? One sure way is to turn to the Scriptures and focus on who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
Inspired by God. St. Paul used one simple sentence to describe the importance of the word of God. He said, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Because of this inspiration, we believe that the Bible contains God’s own revelation to us. More than a set of teachings, Scripture is the word of God, the message that God wants to tell us. So whether we’re reading about the majesty of God our Creator or the teachings of Jesus or the call to live in holiness, the words that we read bear the unique inspiration of God. And that inspiration means that the Holy Spirit can take these words and make them come alive in our hearts. The Spirit can use these words to speak to our deepest longings and needs. He can fill these words with his own power and grace—the power and grace to live a new life.
St. Augustine attested to this power of the inspired word of God. In the midst of a dramatic struggle between his desire to believe and his yearning for the things of the flesh, he once heard a voice tell him, “Take and read.” Augustine sensed that the command was to read the Scriptures, so he opened the Bible and read the first thing that caught his eye: “Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14). In that moment, his heart was softened, his struggle was resolved, and he dedicated his life to following the Lord.
If we can get in the habit of reading and reflecting on the Scriptures every day, we’ll give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring us in touch with Jesus. If we combine prayerful reflection with the study of Scripture, we’ll find our hearts melting. We’ll even find ourselves asking Jesus to mold us into his image. To borrow from St. Paul, we will come to know “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” and we will be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
Visions of Jesus. But it’s not just Scripture that can melt our hearts and mold us into Jesus’ image. We have centuries of Church tradition and history as well. In every age, God has raised up holy men and women, like St. Augustine, whose writings, experiences, and life stories can inspire us and move us to seek the presence of God for ourselves.
For instance, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647–1690) had a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As she gazed on his wounded heart, she felt the Lord telling her that he wanted everyone to see the love and the compassion that Jesus has for the world, especially for those who are suffering.
There’s also Sr. Marie of St. Peter (1816–1848), a Carmelite nun who had another vision—this time of the Holy Face of Jesus. The Lord had a special message for her as well: “Those who on earth contemplate the wounds on My Face shall contemplate it radiant in heaven.”
More close to our day, St. Faustina (1905–1938) received a vision of Jesus with rays of light streaming from his heart. Faustina believed God had called her to share this vision with the whole world and to become an “apostle of divine mercy” so that everyone could experience the tender love God has for them.
Now, most of us are unlikely to see what these three women saw. Not everyone receives these kinds of graces. But at the same time, we believe that God gives these visions so that they can be shared with all believers. This means that we can all meditate on their words and trust that the Holy Spirit will fill our meditations with his grace.
So try an experiment this week. Every day, when you pray, spend some time contemplating one of these visions. Picture it in your mind. Imagine what Jesus might want to tell you through it. Fix your heart on the truths it represents. Rest in God’s grace, and watch as the Holy Spirit melts your heart.
Melted by the Eucharist. Finally, we can’t end this article without talking about another more intimate way that we can experience Jesus: during the Mass. Every time we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, our eyes can be opened a little bit more. We feel his presence a little bit more. Our hearts are melted a little bit more. That’s because Jesus is physically present to us in the Host and in the chalice. It’s also because at Mass we recall his sacrifice on the cross. We celebrate the love that moved him to lay down his life for us. And as we recall and celebrate, the Holy Spirit sends the fire of his love into our hearts.
While there is so much to say about the Mass, we want to focus on just one point. We want to encourage you to come to Mass hungry for Jesus. Come thirsting for his presence. Ask him to open your eyes so that you can see his cross as the ultimate sign of his love for you. Ask him to show you what he is willing to do for you in the future as well.
Melt My Heart, Lord! One day about seven hundred years before Christ, a prophet named Isaiah was praying in the Temple in Jerusalem. As he prayed, he had a vision of heaven:
I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above . . . . One cried out to the other: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-2, 3).
When he saw this, Isaiah felt as if his whole life was undone. Then, he blurted out, “Woe is me! . . . My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). His heart was melted, and he was moved to offer himself as a servant of God: “Here I am. . . . Send me!” (6:8).
When we come into the Lord’s presence, we can feel as if our lives have come undone—but in a good way. Our fears diminish. Joy and gratitude for Jesus rise up in us. Confidence in God replaces anxiety. We find ourselves saying, “I love you, Jesus. I want to devote my life to giving you glory.” This is what it feels like to have our hearts melted.
So let’s pray today, as well as every day, “Come, Lord Jesus, and let me feel your presence. Come and melt my heart with your love. Come and mold me into your image. Lord, I want to live for you and you alone!”