Normally I write to you on Fridays, but this message is coming to you on Saturday because it gives us a chance to honor a very special feast. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which always comes the day after the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It also gives me a chance to reflect on last night’s gorgeous celebration. The special organ concert featuring our own Pei-Yi Ho and Baxter Jennings was incredibly beautiful, our bilingual Mass for our patronal feast was vibrant, and our viewing of the movie “Dolittle,” which moved inside, was enjoyed by those who attended. Special thanks to all those who generously contributed and participated.
I’d like to offer a brief reflection on somebody who embodied God’s love in a powerful way. Few people have done this more vigorously during the last century than Mother Teresa—who, since her canonization on September 4, 2016, we can also call St. Teresa of Calcutta. I recently turned up a beautiful quote from her. She described herself in this way: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
I suspect that all of us could similarly describe ourselves. We are complex people, each with numerous different elements which compose who we are. Our ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds inform us tremendously, not just regarding food and customs, but how we see the world and how the world sees us. The universal Catholic Church transcends international borders and spans time zones. One of the blessings of my ministry is the opportunity to interact with Catholics from numerous cultural backgrounds. I firmly believe that, by being exposed to different cultural perspectives on God, that my own vision of God has expanded greatly.
By faith, many of you are (or will be) husbands and wives. By faith, I am a priest. Two of our seven sacraments are often described as sacraments of vocation: matrimony and holy orders. To become a nun is neither—instead, religious brothers and sisters make important vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. None of these vocations is superior or inferior to any other. What’s essential is that we accept God’s call for each of us. I thank God often that He helped me to answer His call to serve Him as a priest!
One of our ambitions in life ought to be able to repeat Mother Teresa’s statement that, “as to my calling, I belong to the world.” Each day, she was immersed in the realities of a broken and fallen world as she responded to God’s call to bring healing and compassion. Each of us is called to serve others in important ways. Are we doing that?
Now here comes an important question: to whom do our hearts belong? Often, we seek worldly values instead of heavenly ones. Our hearts lust after commodities which will do nothing to support our journey towards heaven, but instead distract us. Let’s liberate our hearts from anything or anybody less, so that we can allow them, like Mother Teresa says, to belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.