An initiative that gave the faithful “an opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith” drew to a close yesterday as Pope Francis concluded the Year of Faith in St. Peter’s Square.
The Mass, which celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, drew thousands of pilgrims.
Particularly notable during the Mass was the first public unveiling of a reliquary said to contain the bone fragments of St. Peter. Discovered in 1942, the bones of the apostle were contained in a bronze reliquary and were held by Pope Francis shortly after his homily.
The Holy Father expressed his affection and gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for opening the Year of Faith. He also greeted the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches who were in Rome for a three day meeting with the Pope.
“With this gesture, through them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of peace and concord,” the Pope said.
Reflecting on the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis spoke on the common theme shared on Sunday readings: the centrality of Christ. Christ as the center of creation demands of us as believers to place him at the center of our words and works.
“When this center is lost, when it is replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around us and for ourselves,” he said.
The Holy Father also spoke on the centrality of Christ in the people of God and history. Christ is united to all, thus making all of us share in a “single journey, a single destiny.”
“To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives,” he said. “When Jesus is the center, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel,” the 76 year old Pontiff said.
Christ’s mercy to the good thief, he concluded, shows that the Lord always gives more than what is asked of Him. “Let us ask the Lord to remember us, in the certainty that by his mercy we will be able to share his glory in paradise,” the Pope said. (J.A.E.)