Thy rebuke hath broken my heart; I am full of heaviness: I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was no man, neither found I any to comfort me. They gave me gall to eat: and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
Caravaggio manages to produce the sense of rent flesh in his painting of St Thomas having his finger forcibly thrust into that pierced side by the hand of Our Lord.
All too often, our efforts do not convey the authenticity of what we are trying to do. Instead of producing a picture of Our Lord’s mercy, we end up like the famous picture of Our Lord lovingly, yet horrendously restored, by an old lady.
The horribly twee statues and paintings of the Sacred Heart then do have a value – a great value. First, they remind us of the fact that we can always do better, and we can always strive to live more authentically Christian lives. Second, they remind us that the images that we produce are shockingly distorted and barely recognisable. Third, they remind us of what we are supposed to see, and that we have indeed fallen short. Fourth, they remind us of what we’re really supposed to see, that the love and mercy of God are limitless for all who are hungry and thirsty. Fifth, they remind us of what came first!