Ahead of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to discover the riches of charity hidden in the heart of Christ.
“Friday we will celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Do not be afraid to present to him all the intentions of our suffering humanity, its fears, its miseries. May this Heart, full of love for men, give everyone hope and trust,” Pope Francis said June 17 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
“I invite you to discover the riches that are hidden in the Heart of Jesus, to learn to love your neighbour,” the Pope said via the livestream broadcast of his weekly catechesis.
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a liturgical feast celebrated on the Friday after Corpus Christi. The devotion to the heart of Jesus has Christ’s unconditional love at its centre, exemplified in the blood and water which poured forth from Christ’s heart in his sacrifice on the cross.
St. Marguerite Marie Alacoque, a 17th-century French nun and mystic, helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart through her visions in which Christ expressed his desire to reveal his loving heart to mankind.
Pope Francis said that the saints serve as “bridges” between God and his people through their prayers of intercession.
He pointed to the life of Moses as an exemplary biblical model of intercessory prayer. The pope said that Moses belonged among those who are “poor in spirit, who live by making trust in God the viaticum of their journey.”
“Moses urges us to pray with the same ardour of Jesus, to intercede for the world, to remember that despite all of its frailties, it always belongs to God,” Pope Francis said.
“Scripture usually depicts him with his hands outstretched towards God, as if to form a bridge between heaven and earth with his own person,” he said. “Even in the most difficult moments, even on the day when the people repudiate God and him as a guide and make themselves a golden calf, Moses does not feel like putting his people aside.”
Pope Francis explained that Moses prayed for others, not only for himself and thus became “the great intercessor of God’s people.”
“We too must realize that we are never before God only as individuals, but also as members of the Church and children of the one human family. This should also become visible in the way we pray for one another,” he said.
“Entrusted by God to transmit the Law to his people, founder of divine worship, mediator of the highest mysteries, he will not for this reason cease to maintain close bonds of solidarity with his people, especially in the hour of temptation and sin. He was always attached to his people. Moses never forgets his people,” Francis said.
The Pope said that Moses provides a “beautiful example for all pastors.” He said that Moses “does not sell out his people to advance his career. He does not climb the ladder, he is an intercessor.”
The “greatness of pastors,” he said, is to be close to their people and not to forget their roots.
“Pastors are the bridges between the people, to whom they belong, and God, to whom they belong by vocation,” Francis said. “This is why they are called ‘pontifex,’ bridges.”
“And today, too, Jesus is the ‘pontifex.’ He is the bridge between us and the Father. And Jesus intercedes for us, He shows the Father the wounds that are the price of our salvation, and He intercedes,” he said.
At the conclusion of his general audience, Pope Francis remembered the life of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
“May freedom of conscience always and everywhere be respected, and may every Christian give an example of consistency with a conscience that is righteous and illuminated by the Word of God,” he said.
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