“The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: a feast so dear to the Christian people. I invite you to discover the riches that are hidden in the Heart of Jesus, to learn to love your neighbor.

I address my thoughts to the elderly, young people, the sick and newlyweds. Turn your gaze to the Heart of Jesus and you will find peace, comfort and hope. I cordially bless you!”

— Pope Francis
General Audience
June 17, 2020

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 2002, while the Church was in the midst of the U.S. clergy sexual abuse crisis, Pope John Paul II declared that this feast would also be designated the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. Both of these themes appear frequently in Pope Francis’s teaching and ministry.

During his General Audience address this week, Francis touched on both themes. In his catechesis, Francis held up Moses as a model for pastors.

“Moses does not barter his people. He is the bridge, the one intercessor. Both of them, the people and God, and he is in the middle. He does not sell out his people to advance his career. He does not climb the ladder, he is an intercessor: for his people, for his flesh and blood, for his history, for his people and for the God who called him. He is the bridge. What a beautiful example for all pastors who must be ‘bridges.’ This is why they are called pontifex, bridges. Pastors are the bridges between the people, to whom they belong, and God, to whom they belong by vocation. This is what Moses is. ‘If you would only forgive their sin! But if you will not, then blot me out of the book that you have written. I do not want to get ahead at the expense of my people.'”

He also made a prayer request for priests and his own ministry in conjunction with the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“I invite everyone to look to that heart and imitate its most authentic sentiments. Pray for all Priests and for my Petrine Ministry, so that all pastoral actions may bear the imprint of the love that Christ bears for each human being.”

He also encouraged all the faithful to turn to the Sacred Heart when we are in need, saying, “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, give everyone hope and trust!”

Let us pray for the sanctity of our priests, that they might be sanctified through the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that they may intercede for the people they serve to bring them closer to God.

Featured Image: Adobe Stock.

Secondary Image: By Józef Mehoffer – http://art-now-and-then.blogspot.nl/2015/02/jozef-mehoffer.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54669620

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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