ROME – Having received Jesus’ love, Christians are called to go forth, give up comforts, and be willing to offer one’s life in martyrdom to fulfill the call to reach out to everyone, Pope Francis said on Friday.
“In Jesus, glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable,” Francis said in his homily for a Mass he celebrated in St. Peter’s Square on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome.
“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,” the pope said.
The Mass was celebrated the day after Francis created 14 new cardinals from Iraq, Pakistan, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Madagascar, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Japan and Poland. The archbishops who were appointed over the course of the past years were invited to come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day with Francis.
The merciful love of God’s anointed one – Jesus- who kept bringing the Father’s love and mercy to the very end, “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.”
When he heard that Christ was to die and rise on the third day, the pope said, the apostle Peter asked God to forbid it, saying that “this must never happen to you.”
By acting this way, the pope said, Peter became a “stumbling stone” in God’s path.
“Thinking that he is defending God’s rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord’s enemy; Jesus calls him ‘Satan’,” the pope said.
“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,” the pontiff said, clarifying that he speaks of “whispering” because the devil seduces us while “hiding, lest his intentions be recognized.”
“He behaves like a hypocrite, wishing to stay hidden and not be discovered,” he said.
During the service, the pontiff blessed the pallium, a stole that the archbishops will each receive from the papal representative in their archdioceses in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses.
The pallium symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope, and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.
To share in Christ’s anointing, Francis said in his homily, means to “share in his glory, which is his cross.”
The pontiff also said that Jesus “touches human misery” and asks those who follow him to do the same, to profess the faith not only in words but also in actions, which demands being able to learn to recognize the whispers of the devil.
“It demands learning to discern and recognize those personal and communitarian ‘pretexts’ that keep us far from real human dramas, that preserve us from contact with other people’s concrete existence and, in the end, from knowing the revolutionary power of God’s tender love,” the pope said in a homily that was primarily addressed to the new members of the Church’s hierarchy.