Today is also the [37th] anniversary of the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II — the beginning of one of the most outstanding pontificates in modern history. I am deeply grateful that I was able to spend five months in Rome when he was Pope, to concelebrate Mass with him and meet him once, and to be in his presence and hear him speak a number of times.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, we hear Saint Paul talking to the Galatians about our father-in-faith Abraham, who sired the patriarch Isaac by the free-woman Sarah, and the son Ishmael by the slave woman Hagar. Those two men, Isaac and Ishmael, have been regarded ever since as the progenitors of the Jews and the Muslims. There was conflict between them then; there is even greater conflict between the two groups now. So today we have the opportunity to pray for the eventual peace between the two conflicting factions and a cessation of the terrorism that that conflict has caused to spill out into the rest of the world.
And then today we celebrate in our liturgy the commemoration of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun of the 17th century who was chosen by Our Divine Lord to be the herald of the devotion to his Sacred Heart. The reason why you find so many statues and pictures of what we call “the Sacred Heart” in so many churches, homes, and other religious places is because Jesus appeared to her as a grown man, with his heart visible on the outside of his body, burning with love for humankind. “Behold this heart,” he told her, “which has so loved men, and has been so little loved in return.” And he directed her to ask the world to observe the first Friday of every month as a special day of reparation to his divine Heart.
Then, much later — within my own lifetime — Our Divine Lord appeared to the Polish nun, Saint Faustina Kowalska, in much the same guise as he appeared to Saint Margaret Mary. This time, however, rays of white and red seemed to emanate from his heart upon the world below, and he revealed to her that they represented the water and blood that Saint John speaks of as coming from the pierced heart of the dead Christ as he hung upon the cross. And that they represent the mercy which the crucified Lord wishes to pour out upon the world. So we can very profitably contemplate the loving heart of Jesus revealed to Saint Margaret Mary, and the merciful heart of Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina, and do our best to be worthy children of this Divine and Sacred Heart which so eagerly wishes for our love in return. Let us always remember that our holy religion is not simply a sacred science by which a number of truths are taught us; above all, it is a very deep love affair between us and the man Jesus who is also God, and who loves us with an everlasting love and thirsts for our love in return. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.