“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you,” wrote St. Augustine of Hippo in his Confessions.

In this month of June, in which we honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we may naturally want to focus on the heart as the symbol and center of love.

We often speak of — and sometimes experience — what might be described (inadequately) as a “heartache” for a certain “other.” That “other” could be a specific person: a desire or longing to be with this person or to be closer or more intimate. Love seeks union, but it also wants a full communion.

It is possible to be in union with a loved one, but not fully in communion. People can kiss and embrace and share the intimacy of their bodies, but not experience a closeness of minds, hearts and souls.

The heartache that longs for the “other” is not healed, one might say, when the loved one seems distanced from us somewhat by an attitude or way of living that is toxic, harmful or sinful in some way.

I am thinking, for example, of the love of parent for a child, a son or a daughter, who might be experiencing some kind of an addiction or an allegiance to some idol or false god, a cult or a group of associates who are instilling bad attitudes or practices of violence, hatred or rejection of the values that foster love and wellness.

The love of the parent for that child remains strong and total and, no matter where the child may be, there is no sacrifice, even to the point of death, that the loving parent would not make to bring him or her back to a life of harmony and peace, of true communion.

The image of the Sacred Heart reminds us that God longs for our hearts. The burning love in the “heart” of God is real, because it is something that Jesus, the Incarnate Word, in his human heart, really feels.

God’s desire for the heart’s full response of even the most wayward sinner is real. The parable of the Good Shepherd reveals to each of us, so tenderly, how Jesus as that Good Shepherd will never cease looking for that lost sheep in each and every one of us.

God made us out of love and for love. It is the desire to be in full communion with us that, the Scriptures tell us, brought God to send us Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, to become incarnate with our humanity, to be close to us. Jesus does not lose his divinity or his humanity when he pours his life out for us, but rather reveals to us the depth and breadth of God’s love.

That Jesus would have died for you and me, even if you or I were the only person in the world, is a profound mystery that reminds us that love is God’s very substance. It is what defines God’s true nature.

Love seeks a response. For us, it is impossible to respond to God’s love completely, inasmuch as we are hardly in full possession of ourselves at any one moment. We are not “all together” most of the time, which is another way of saying we are incomplete, not quite “whole.”

That is why we encounter Jesus not only as our lover, which he is, but also and always as our Savior.

Jesus is especially present to us in holy communion, the sacrament of the holy Eucharist in which he fully presents himself to us to be received completely into ourselves. The Jesus whom we receive in holy communion is the whole, risen Jesus: fully alive, body, blood, soul and divinity.

We bring ourselves, as best we can, with open hearts to him. He seeks out our open hearts, holding on to nothing that is alien to love, because that would be to trivialize or disrespect the depth of his love.

There is always a certain sense of unworthiness with which we receive the living Lord, but the desire alone to want to respond to him completely, holding back nothing, is a great comfort to his heart. He seeks the whole person that we are or, at least, can become, if we allow him to transform us and make us holy.

So, we do not want to hold on to any person, way of thinking, attitude or attachment that is not good and holy as we receive Jesus into ourselves. If we want Jesus to be “real” for us, we need to be real for him!

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)