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ROME – In a special Mass closing a two-day high-profile meeting of cardinals at the Vatican, Pope Francis told the prelates they should be in constant wonder of God, and share in his commission to spread the Gospel throughout the world.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass with nearly 200 cardinals present in Rome for an Aug. 29-30 meeting dedicated to studying and discussing his recent reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s central governing bureaucracy.
Among the red hats were 20 cardinals elevated by the pope during a consistory Saturday, who hail from various nations scattered throughout the world.
In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the day’s scripture readings, which he said conveyed two types of wonder: the wonder of St. Paul at God’s plan of salvation, and the wonder of the disciples who meet the risen Jesus, who commissions them to go make disciples of all nations.
The day’s Gospel reading recounts what happened after Jesus’ resurrection, when he told the disciples to meet him in Galilee, and then, once they arrived, commissioned them to “Go… make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
“If we enter into the brief but profound account found in the Gospel, if together with the disciples, we answer the Lord’s call and go to Galilee, on the mountain that he pointed out, we will experience a new wonder,” the pope said.
In re-reading this commission from Jesus, the sense of wonder should come from the “amazing fact that God calls us to share in this plan,” the pope said, saying this is “the mission of the apostles with the risen Christ.”
Even more profound than Jesus’ commission, Francis said, was his promise that “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“These words, spoken by the risen Lord, still have the power, even after 2,000 years, to thrill our hearts,” he said, saying the decision to evangelize the world with “that ragtag group of disciples,” some of whom experienced doubts, seems “unfathomable.”
“Yet, if we think about it, we should marvel no less if we look at ourselves, gathered here today, to whom the Lord has spoken those same words, given that same mandate!” he said, saying this kind of wonder is itself “a way to salvation.”
Pope Francis then asked that God keep this wonder alive in the hearts of those present, and free them from “the temptation of thinking that we can ‘manage things.’ Or from the false security of thinking that today is somehow different, no longer like the origins,” since it is big and present throughout the world, and since they as cardinals occupy “eminent positions” within the hierarchy.
While there is some truth to this, Francis cautioned, “there is also much deception, whereby the Father of Lies seeks to make Christ’s followers first worldly, then innocuous.”
“Today, truly, the word of God awakens in us wonder at being in the church, of being Church! That is what makes the community of believers attractive, first to themselves and then to others,” he said, saying this is the “double mystery of our being blessed in Christ and of going forth with Christ into the world.”
This sense of wonder, he said, “does not diminish with the passing of the years; it does not weaken with our increasing responsibilities in the church,” but rather grows both stronger and deeper.
Francis voiced gratitude to his predecessor, Pope Saint Paul VI, who he said passed on his love for the church, “a love which is first and foremost gratitude, grateful wonder at her mystery and at the gift of our being not only members of the church, but involved in her life, sharing in and, indeed, jointly responsible for her.”
He quoted Paul VI’s 1964 encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, which said that “the church needs to cultivate a deeper awareness of her identity…her origin and her mission” as well as “the providential plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God… so that through the church…it may be made known.”’
This, Pope Francis said, “is what it is to be a minister of the church. One who experiences wonder before God’s plan and, in that spirit, passionately loves the church and stands at the service of her mission wherever and however the Holy Spirit may choose.”
Saint Paul, he said, had an apostolic zeal that was always accompanied and preceded by words of blessing to God “filled with wonder and gratitude.”
“May it also be the case with us! May it be the case with each of you, dear brother Cardinals,” the pope said, and asked the Virgin Mary to intercede for each of them.
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