As more information is gleaned about our new Holy Father, Francis, it seems that this Papacy might be a little different from previous ones. So far, Pope Francis has gone to the hotel to pick up his bags and pay the bill, rode in a bus with his fellow Cardinals, had an early morning trip to the Basilica of St Mary Major (to pray that Our Lady will protect Rome), and headed off to the hospital to visit his friend and fellow Argentinian, Jorge Cardinal Mejia.
It looks like it is going to be a difficult job for security as Francis is sure to choose to go out and be amongst the people whom he serves, emulating his namesake St Francis of Assisi, but more importantly doing just as Jesus did, being friends to the outcasts of society. The famous quote attributed to St Francis “Preach the Gospel always; if necessary use words” is likely to be how Pope Francis lives his Petrine Ministry. Certainly, his priestly ministry to date has been one of action. It is quite possible that he will lead us on this journey together showing us how to be Christ-like through actions first.
It is exciting too that he understands that the need for the Church to be “rebuilt”. He will do so with great humility, but with a strong and clear understanding of how the Church should be, getting rid of the rot that exists within. Francis knows that the cross of Christ is essential to the Christian life, to the rebuilding of the Church. He will take it up with great courage, and he has asked each one of us to walk with him on this journey, each of us embracing our own crosses.
Pope Francis is calling us to live each moment of our lives ad majorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God.
Let us with courage walk this journey with him, as he, like a gentle father, leads us to know, love and serve God, our Father.
Pope Francis’ First Homily
In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.
Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.
Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!
Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.
Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups – there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.
This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.
My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.