Pope Francis on Friday encouraged Catholics to let the love of Jesus, as demonstrated by his most Sacred Heart, speak through their care for the sick and suffering.
“How many words we say about God without letting love shine through. But love speaks for itself, it does not speak of itself,” Pope Francis said during a Nov. 5 Mass at a Catholic university hospital in Rome.
“We ask for the grace to be passionate about the person who suffers,” he said, “to be passionate about service, so that the Church, before having words to say, preserves a heart beating with love.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass outside Gemelli University Hospital, which is located on Rome’s highest hill, Monte Mario, and was ranked first among hospitals in Italy by Newsweek in 2021.
Pope Francis spent 11 days at Gemelli Hospital in July following colon surgery. While recovering from the operation, he stayed in the same hospital room where John Paul II was treated during his pontificate.
In his homily, Francis reflected on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for which the university is named. The first Friday of every month is also dedicated to devotion to the Sacred Heart.
“When we serve those who suffer, we console and gladden the Heart of Christ,” the pope said, recalling a passage in the Gospel of John, which recounts the moment a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side as he hung on the cross.
“The pierced side, from which blood and water flow, gives witness because we believe,” the pope said. “That is, St. John writes that in that moment the testimony takes place.”
“The torn Heart of God is eloquent. It speaks without words, because it is mercy in its pure state, love that is wounded and gives life. It is God, with closeness, passion, and tenderness.”
Pope Francis said that closeness, compassion, and tenderness were all qualities Catholics could learn from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and were especially needed in Catholic healthcare.
“Let us encourage ourselves with this certainty, with God’s comfort,” he said. “And let us ask the Sacred Heart for the grace to be able to console in turn.”
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He also explained that the Sacred Heart is the icon of the Passion of Christ: “it shows us the visceral tenderness of God, his loving passion for us, and at the same time, surmounted by the cross and surrounded by thorns, it shows how much suffering our salvation has cost.”
“What does this suggest?” he asked. “That, if we really want to love God, we must be passionate about mankind, about every man, especially the one who lives in the condition in which the Heart of Jesus was manifested: that is, pain, abandonment, rejection.”
“If we look at reality from the greatness of his Heart,” the pope encouraged, “the perspective changes, our knowledge of life changes because, as St. Paul reminded us, we know ‘the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding’ (Ephesians 3:19).”