God invites us all to follow Him and be part of His beloved family.
Pope Francis stressed this to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul this morning. He presided over the Mass, at which the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was present.
The Holy Father also invested the pallium on 30 Metropolitan archbishops. The pallium, a woolen cloak that is a sign of their office, is made from the wool of lambs blessed by the Pope on the Feast of St. Agnes.
In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on today’s readings, noting they link us to the apostolic Tradition.
“That Tradition,” he reminded, “’is not the transmission of things or words, an assortment of lifeless objects; it is the living stream that links us to the origins, the living stream in which those origins are ever present’” (Benedict XVI, Catechesis, 26 April 2006) and offer us the keys to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 16:19).”
Today’s entire Gospel, the Pope noted, is an answer “to the question present in the hearts of the People of Israel and today too dwells in the hearts of all those who thirst for life: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Mt 11:3). Jesus takes up that question and asks it of his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15).”
Peter, the Jesuit Pope noted, speaks up and calls Jesus by the greatest title he could possibly bestow: “You are the Christ.”
You Are Mine
When Jesus anointed the people, “every sinner – the downcast, the infirm, pagans, wherever they found themselves – could feel a beloved part of God’s family. By his actions, Jesus said in a very personal way: “You are mine.’”
Like Peter, the Pope reminded, we too can confess with our lips and our heart not only what we have heard, but also concretely experienced in our lives. “We too have been brought back to life, healed, renewed and filled with hope by the anointing of the Holy One.”
Francis reminded that God’s merciful love demands “that we too go forth to every corner of life, to reach out to everyone, even though this may cost us our “good name”, our comforts, our status… even martyrdom.”
Peter reacts to this completely unexpected announcement of what would happen to Jesus by saying: “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Mt 16:22). In this way, the Pontiff noted, he immediately becomes “a stumbling stone” in the Messiah’s path.
“Thinking that he is defending God’s rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord’s enemy; Jesus calls him “Satan”. To contemplate Peter’s life and his confession of faith also means learning to recognize the temptations that will accompany the life of every disciple.”
“Like Peter, we as a Church will always be tempted to hear those ‘whisperings’ of the evil One, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission. I speak of ‘whispering’ because the devil seduces from hiding, lest his intentions be recognized.”
To share in Christ’s anointing, on the other hand, Francis explained,means to share in His glory, which is His Cross. In Jesus, the Pope said, glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable.
“Once we turn our back on the Cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God’s glory, but the snare of the enemy.”
While often we feel tempted to be Christians who keep a prudent distance from the Lord’s wounds, “Jesus touches human misery and he asks us to join him in touching the suffering flesh of others.”
Will Never Abandon
“By not separating his glory from the Cross, Jesus wants to liberate his disciples, his Church, from empty forms of triumphalism: forms empty of love, service, compassion, empty of people. He wants to set his Church free from grand illusions that fail to sink their roots in the life of God’s faithful people or, still worse, believe that service to the Lord means turning aside from the dusty roads of history.”
“To contemplate and follow Christ requires that we open our hearts to the Father and to all those with whom he has wished to identify, in the sure knowledge that he will never abandon his people.”
Pope Francis concluded, urging: “Let us confess with our lips and heart that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
“This is the cantus firmus that we are called daily to intone. With the simplicity, the certainty and the joy of knowing that “the Church shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ. Her light is drawn from the Sun of Justice, so that she can exclaim: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.’”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Text of Pope’s Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/pope-francis-homily-for-the-feast-of-saints-peter-and-paul-4/