Pope Francis to new Cardinals: 'keep the faces of the distressed before you'
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Pope Francis on Thursday invited the 14 new Cardinals to follow Jesus, to eliminate vain and self-centered discussion in the Church, in order to further the interests of the Father. He drew inspiration from the Gospel of Mark (10:32-45) read during the Ordinary Public Consistory.
The disciples are walking with Jesus to Jerusalem having just heard the prediction of his passion the third time. Jesus walks ahead of them. Pope Francis defines this moment as important and crucial, one in which “the heart can speak and reveal the intentions and tensions within us”. The secrets hidden in the disciples’ hearts begin to manifest themselves: “the quest for honours, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise”, Pope Francis said.
Jesus continues walking ahead without focusing on their pettiness. “The Lord tries to refocus the eyes and hearts of his disciples” by firmly saying “It shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mk 10:43). The Pope said Jesus gave us this principle to eliminate vain and self-centered discussions from the community of disciples in order to bring out the best in their hearts.
Pope Francis continued saying Jesus’ teaching is that of conversion. He said conversion allows the Church to seek the Father’s, rather than personal, interests. The “moment of truth” happens when we come face to face with those in distress. Keeping their faces before us helps us carry out the Church’s mission; losing sight of those faces we get bogged down “in the pursuit of our own interests and securities”, the Pope said.
Hearts in service
In conclusion, Pope Francis reminded the new Cardinals that Jesus continues walking at their head. His example of washing the disciples’ feet before “bowing his head on the cross”, the Pope said, is the greatest honour to which the Cardinals are called.
This is the highest honour that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God’s faithful people.