On Belonging to Christ

“Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses!”

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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

In the second reading this Sunday, St. Paul says: “So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23). Why does the Apostle say this? It is because he finds himself faced with divisions in the community at Corinth, where different groups had been formed that each regarded some preacher as their leader. They said: “I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am of Cephas…” (Corinthians 1:12). St. Paul explains that this way of thinking is mistaken because the community does not belong to the apostles, rather the apostles belong to the community. But the community as a whole belongs to Christ!

This belonging to Christ means that in the Christian communities – dioceses, parishes, associations, movements – the differences cannot contradict the fact that, through Baptism, we have the same dignity: all of us, in Jesus Christ, are children of God. And this is our dignity: in Jesus Christ we are children of God! Those who have received the office of leadership, of preaching, of administering the Sacraments, must not think of themselves as owners of special powers, as masters, but put themselves at the service of the community, helping it to travel the path of holiness with joy.

Today the Church entrusts this way of pastoral life to the new cardinals, with whom I celebrated Mass this morning. We can greet all the new cardinals with applause. Let us all greet them! Yesterday’s consistory and today’s eucharistic celebration offered us a precious occasion to experience the catholicity, the universality of the Church, well-represented by the various origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around the Successor of Peter. And may the Lord give us the grace to work for the unity of the Church, to build this unity, because unity is more important than conflicts! The unity of the Church is from Christ; conflicts are problems that are not always from Christ.

The liturgical moments of celebration that we have had the opportunity to experience during the course of the last couple days, reinforce the faith in all of us and the love for Christ and for his Church! I invite you to support these shepherds and to assist them with prayer, so that they always lead with zeal the people entrusted to them, showing everyone the tenderness and love of the Lord. But a bishop, a cardinal, a pope have such a great need of prayer to help the people of God to go forward! I say “help,” that is, serve the people of God, because the vocation of a bishop, a cardinal and a pope is precisely this: to be servants, to serve in the name of Christ. Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses! All of us together, bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful must offer the witness of a Church faithful to Christ, animated by the desire to serve our brothers and ready to meet with prophetic courage the spiritual expectations and needs of the men and women of our time. May Our Lady accompany us and protect us on this journey.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks to those gathered in St. Peter’s square:]

I greet all of the pilgrims present, especially those who have come for the consistory, to accompany the new cardinals; and I heartily thank the countries who have wished to be present at this event with official delegations.

I greet the students of Toulouse and the community of Venezuelans who live in Italy.

I greet the faithful from Caltanissetta, Reggio Calabria, Sortino, Altamura, Ruvo and Lido degli Estensi; the young people from Reggio Emilia and those from the Diocese of Lodi; the Bicyclist Association of Agrigento and the volunteers of the Civil Protection from Bassa Padovana.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch! Goodbye!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]
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