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Bishop's Column

Bishop Barbarito Column


Our World Needs a Heart

We are quickly approaching the final days of the month of June, which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on Friday, June 2. Through the human heart of Jesus, the very divine love of God has been made manifest in a manner that we can touch and experience. Just as June holds the center of the year and the brightest day, which was the first day of summer, June 20, so the Sacred Heart reveals the brightness of the center of Christ, both in His human and divine natures. His human heart is from where His Blood and life flowed, and that heart manifests the center of His divinity, which is love and mercy!

During this month, Pope Francis announced that he is preparing to write a document dedicated to the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which will be published in September. He expressed, “I believe it will be very beneficial for us to meditate on the various aspects of the Lord’s love that can illuminate the path of ecclesial renewal; but also to say something significant to a world that seems to have lost its heart.”

Indeed, as we look at the many challenges of our world and of our nation today, it does seem that we have lost our heart. Divided by politics centered on issues critical to who the human person is, it seems that political correctness is more important than the human heart as created by God. Indeed, while artificial intelligence, which is developing so rapidly, can be an asset to the human person, it can also be a detriment as it can remove the human heart from decision-making. Pope Francis emphasized this in his address on artificial intelligence on June 14 to the Group of Seven Summit held in Italy. He expressed, “This is precisely where political action is urgently needed.” We need to turn more to the heart to understand who we are as well as our relationship to each other and to God. The Sacred Heart of Jesus reveals the depth of our hearts through His.

The great St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, spoke often of the heart. He is well known for his insight that, “The heart speaks to the heart.” St. John Cardinal Newman took this phrase for his episcopal motto as he was influenced by St. Francis de Sales. St. Francis de Sales has much to say to all of us in regard to our world needing a heart today, especially in regard to the heart, speaking to the heart. As Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Letter on him last year, “Saint Francis de Sales felt there was no better place to find God, and to help others find Him, than in the hearts of men and women of his time. He had learned this from his earliest years, developing a keen insight both into himself and into the human heart.”

The Sacred Heart of Jesus makes divine love visible in human form. We experience the depth of God’s love in the human heart of Christ. God’s desire to assume a human heart and His willingness to let it be pierced for our sake, speaks movingly to us of how much God loves us. Indeed, God’s love for us was made manifest to us when we did not deserve it, when we had sinned. God created us out of love and redeemed us, with His Son’s Sacred Heart, out of mercy. This is the full embodiment of His love. “Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us and sent His Son as an offering for our sins” (1 Jn 4:9-10). All the saints who had such devotion to the Sacred Heart were permeated with the reality of God’s overwhelming love, which is revealed in the Sacred Heart of Christ, which is now part of the life of the Trinity in the glorified body of the Risen Christ.

The day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is most appropriate to reflect upon the heart of Mary during this month of the Sacred Heart as the heart of Mary and Jesus are one. It was from the human heart of Mary that the human heart of Jesus literally came into existence. The love which Jesus expressed to others from the depths of His being truly was a reflection of the love which Mary expressed to Jesus from the depths of her being. The heart of God, in His human existence, is intimately bound to the heart of Mary in the fullness of life in heaven, where she has been bodily assumed.

The perfect heart the Lord encountered was that of His Mother Mary. Her heart knew no evil, but only the goodness of the Lord Himself. While her heart knew the pain of suffering, especially through that of her Son, she always trusted in the Lord, and therefore experienced the rest which only He could give. Mary truly understood the words of her Son, “Come to me, all you labor, and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28-30). When Mary presented Jesus in the Temple shortly after His birth, Simeon prophesied to her that a sword would pierce her heart, and it did at the foot of the Cross. However, it was Mary who treasured in her heart all the beautiful mysteries of the Lord as well as His words in a manner which gave her a tremendous joy. She handed onto the apostles what she treasured in her heart.

As we come to the conclusion of this month of June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we look to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our world needs a heart, and it is the hearts of Jesus and Mary that will open our hearts to each other and to God. With all of the clamor for a redefinition of being human today, our world needs a heart which is the heart of God who has created us in His image and likeness. We look forward to the words of Pope Francis on the Sacred Heart of the Lord with which He will bless us in September.

Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito