First of all, we must realize the obvious – Jesus has only one Heart! And devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy are really inseparable. The Sacred Heart overflows with merciful love for us, and we are to overflow with love to others.
Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French Sister of the Visitation, received 40 revelations of the heart of Jesus between 1673 and 1675, including 4 major apparitions.
In 1931 Jesus appeared before Sr. Faustina Kowalska and requested an image be painted which portrayed His ineffable love and mercy for His children.
Saint Catherine of Siena put it best back in the Middle Ages, that God’s love always crosses a bridge of mercy to reach us. In other words, the Sacred Heart of Jesus is all love, but the form that love takes when it reaches out to human beings is merciful love.
St. Faustina wrote in her diary: “the Love of God is the flower, and Mercy the fruit” (paragraph 949).
It is quite clear here that the Sacred Heart which is the love of God is source of the Divine Mercy. There can be no fruit without first having a flower.
Jesus implores us through St. Faustina, “I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart (Diary, 1588). Jesus has only one Heart! His Sacred Heart is His Merciful Heart – they are one and the same.
In the image of the Sacred Heart, Jesus shows His burning love for us and His desire that we return that love. But it is He who initiates the first step.
In the image of Divine Mercy, it is Jesus who steps toward us. The two images – the two devotions – complement one another and are bound up with each other as to be absolutely inseparable. We shouldn’t be frightened to approach Him. As Jesus tells us through St. Faustina, “Come to Me, all of you … Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to me … “My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world … I let My Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain (paragraph 1485).
Precisely, from the open wound in the Heart of Jesus, through His pierced side on the Cross, His Blood and Water is poured out, symbolic of all the graces of Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Eucharist. When we make reparation, these graces pour forth anew like a flood. There is nothing the world needs more. Let us return love for love.
The Sacred Heart Devotion emphasizes the suffering love of Jesus for us: tender, wounded, and unrequited love, asking for our response of love. This is why His Heart is shown as surmounted by a cross, pierced and crowned with thorns. This devotion also emphasizes honoring the person of Christ as best symbolized by His physical heart. The heart in the bible is understood as center of the person: of thinking, feeling, deciding.
We find in the traditional images of the Sacred Heart, Jesus is calling us back to Himself: calling us to love Him back, calling us to make that response of love through Reparation, in return for all His tender, affectionate, and wounded love for us.
The Divine Mercy Devotion emphasizes the risen Christ graciously taking the initiative and seeking us out in the darkness with the rays of His merciful love as He did to His apostles after His resurrection. The Image of The Divine Mercy, emphasizes not so much on the movement from us to Christ, but more from Christ to us.
It emphasizes Benediction or blessing. In this image Christ is shown walking toward the viewer, coming to find us; the rays of merciful love flowing from His Heart spread out to embrace the viewer, and His hand is raised with a blessing of peace even before we ask for it.
Although, the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy Devotions have significantly different emphasis, they are truly inseparable. St. Faustina Kowalska was herself devoted also to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and practiced the First Friday devotion. According to saints, visionaries, and popes, we need to be devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and, at the same time, to have a special devotion to the Divine Mercy that flows to us from His Heart.
Jesus has only one Heart. His Sacred Heart is His Merciful Heart – they are one and the same.