Like the four new saints canonized today, Christians are called to “abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all.”
These were the words of Pope Francis this morning at the canonization of four new saints from Palestine, Italy and France. Among the dignitaries present was President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine who met privately with the Holy Father yesterday.
The Pope began his homily by reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter defines the mission entrusted to Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.
“It is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection,” St. Peter says in the reading.
The Holy Father said that Peter sums up “what it means to be part of the Twelve apostles”: to be a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.
“The fact that he says ‘with us’ brings us to realize that the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual undertaking: it is to be carried out in common, with the apostolic college and with the community,” he said.
“Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to his resurrection, above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident.”
To Remain in the Risen Christ
Turning his attention to the newly canonized saints, Pope Francis stressed the importance of what St. John says in his letter: “to remain in the risen Christ and in his love.”
That love was exemplified in the life of of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve. The French saint, he said, “consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.”
Sister Maria Cristina Brando, he continued, also gave witness of remaining faithful amid obstacles.
“She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord,” he said. “From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.”
Regarding the two new saints from Palestine, the 78 year old Pontiff said that both exemplified another aspect of giving witness to the risen Lord by showing “unity among ourselves.”
“Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way,” he noted. “Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world.”
“Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity,” he continued. “She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that the lives of the four saints challenge Christians to bear witness to the resurrection of Christ. To do this, he said, it is important to carry within the “joy of this encounter with the risen Lord.
“Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love,” he said. “Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate.”
— — —
On ZENIT’s website:
To read the full text of the Pope’s homily, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-homily-at-canonizations-of-four-blesseds