You know well the passage of the dialogue between Jesus and the Apostles at Caesarea Philippi (Mt 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-33). Jesus asks His closest followers, “Who do people say that I am?” They offer the different perceptions of the day, “Some say John the Baptist, others, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets.” “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds quickly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
Jesus commends Peter, and entrusts to him the keys of the Kingdom; an extraordinary role in the Church.
Imagine for a moment, if Peter, a few years later, after Jesus’ Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, posed the similar question in the Church. He asks, “What do people say about the Church and Her mission?” We could expect a variety of opinions and observations.
We can ask the same question today: What do people say about the Church? Who determines Her teachings and work?
The heart is often represented as the core or center of human emotions, and especially of love. The images of Valentine’s Day bear testimony to this. We know that the heart – along with the brain – performs one of the most important works of the body. In the great first command of the Old Testament – and the New Testament – we are “to love the Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength” (Dt 6: 4-5; Mt 22:37; Mk 12:29; Lk 10:27).
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is likewise a powerful sign or symbol of Christ’s love ‘in the flesh.’ When God took human flesh in the mystery of the Incarnation, there was formed in Him also a heart. After His death Jesus rose in the body. He ascended into Heaven in His body. And so His loving and Sacred Heart continues to live and beat.
The climax of the Easter season is in the two solemn feasts of the Ascension and of Pentecost.
The Ascension of the Lord, celebrated traditionally Forty Days after the Resurrection, can be seen as a grace of divine justice. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior, humbled Himself in being made flesh in the Incarnation. He taught, was killed, and rose from death. Now He is restored to the glory that is rightly His from all eternity. He returns to the heavenly Father, and sits at the right hand of the power. He receives again the glory which is His due.
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the 17th century French Visitation sister and mystic, along with St. John Eudes, St. Gertrude, and others, is associated with the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary says of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that she is the mirror of the Sacred Heart. Her love is a reflection, an image of Christ’s Heart.
Any authentic teaching about Mary will make clear that God is always the source of life. Mary is His humble handmaid, chosen from all mankind, to participate in a most extraordinary way in the mystery of the Incarnation. From Heaven she continues, through her maternal prayers, to bring the world to her Son.
Some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI surprised some people when he spoke about our responsibility to be conscientious stewards of creation. Addressing Italian students in 2011, the “conservative” Pope called on them to become ‘guardians of nature’ and follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. It should not shock us to think that those we might call “conservatives” are determined to conserve the goods entrusted to mankind.