By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis in his homily on Friday urged Christians not to be a stumbling block in the path of Christ, the Anointed One, whose glory cannot be separated from his cross.
“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,” the Pope said in his homily during Mass in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square on June 29, the solemn feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of Rome who were both martyred in the Eternal City.
During the Mass the Pope blessed the pallium which will be sent to 30 new metropolitan archbishops that he appointed around the world during the past year.
The pallium is a band of white wool which metropolitan archbishops wear around their shoulders as a symbol of their authority and their unity with the Pope. A metropolitan archdiocese is one under which suffragan dioceses are grouped together to make up a geographical territory of the Church.
Christ anoints His people
Pope Francis centred his homily on the episode of St. Peter in Matthew’s Gospel where he confesses his faith in Jesus saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Pope said Peter had seen how Jesus “anointed” His people with hope, walking from village to village with the sole aim of saving and helping those considered lost – the dead, the sick, the wounded and the repentant.
The Argentine Pope said that “God’s Anointed One kept bringing the Father’s love and mercy to the very end.” “This merciful love,” he said, “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 a stumbling block
The Pope pointed out that when Peter couldn’t accept that Jesus should die, he becomes the Lord’s enemy and a “stumbling stone in the Messiah’s path”. Peter’s life and confession of faith, the Holy Father said, “also means learning to recognize the temptations that will accompany the life of every disciple.”
Like Peter, the Pope said, we will always be tempted to hear those “whisperings” of the evil One, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission. The devil, he explained, seduces with “whispering” from hiding, because like a hypocrite he wants to stay hidden and not be discovered.
Separating Christ’s glory from cross
Sharing in Christ’s anointing, also means sharing in his glory, which is his cross. “In Jesus,” the Pope said, “glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable.
The Pope explained that that 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.
He pointed out that we often feel the temptation to be Christians by keeping 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.
“To proclaim our faith with our lips and our heart,” the Pope said, “demands that we – like Peter – learn to recognize the “whisperings” of the evil one, 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.”