Friday, June 27, 2014
Archbishop Thomas Wenski - The Archdiocese of Miami
Homily by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops' Conference of the European Community, in Brussels, Belgium on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. June 27, 2014.
For some time, this Feast has been associated with the priesthood. John Paul II designated the feast of the Sacred Heart as a day of prayer for the sanctification of priests.
St. John Vianney once said: “The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.” The Heart of Jesus was pierced on cavalry symbolizing the totality of Jesus’ gift of himself on the cross. But the blood and water that flowed from his side also symbolizes the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. For this reason, the ancient Fathers of the Church would say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, that is, the Church is born from the Heart of Jesus.
And so celibate priests are rightly called “fathers” – for the faithful are brought to life in Christ, and they are sustained in that life, through the sacramental ministry of priests.
Jesus loves us with a human heart. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of the humanity of Jesus – but also of the concreteness of his love. Love is not an abstraction, it is not a philosophical axiom; love is always an action, a deed. It is a “giving away” of one self – even as Jesus gave away himself on the cross for our salvation.
Today, on this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart we do well to recall how Jesus’ love – in all its tenderness – is also mediated to us through the ministry of our priests, especially their ministry in the Sacrament of Penance through which our sins are forgiven. The Cure d’Ars, St. John Vianney, was known for this ministry of reconciliation – and priests today if they are to be faithful to their calling to reflect “the love of the Heart of Jesus” must continue, as Pope Francis has urged, to devote themselves to this ministry of spiritual healing and restoration.
John Vianney served the Lord with a single-heartedness that all priests should strive to emulate. His rule of life was “Do only what can be offered to the Lord.” Certainly a rule of life that should guide those of us in ordained ministry but also those of you who share in the priesthood of the faithful conferred in Baptism. May all that we say, do or think be a worthy offering to the Lord. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.