On Saturday Pope Francis received a delegation from the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He gave a short address and specifically mentioned their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, encouraging them to 'return to your first and only love.'
This part of his address is most fitting and can easily be applied to the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. It describes what it truly means to be one with the Heart of Christ and the mission of the Church.
The original inspiration of your founder was that of spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Today you strive to foster this devotion and to make it bear fruit through a variety of works and activities that witness to the tender and merciful love of Jesus for all, especially those in greatest need. For this reason, I encourage you, as I do so often with consecrated persons – ‘to return to your first and only love.’ Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor. Learn from him to give hope and dignity to the destitute, and to go forth to all those places where people are in need of acceptance and assistance. This is the first Gospel that the Church entrusts to you by sending you out as missionaries to the world: to show by your lives and by your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and those whom our world has discarded.
We are all called to be “missionaries,” going out to the world and confronting the many challenges of humanity. To do so effectively we must keep our “gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart.” It is from Jesus that we learn how to love and it is our goal to have a heart like his.
This is important to remember each month Pope Francis gives us a prayer intention to consider. If we want to pray and act on it, we must look to Jesus and rest on his heart, returning to our “first and only love.” Through Jesus, all things are possible.
You can find Pope Francis monthly prayer intentions here.
Philip Kosloski is a writer and content manager for the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.