On the solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Pope Francis blessed the palliums for the metropolitan archbishops appointed during the year (including three from Asia). He prayed together with the delegate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at the tomb of Peter. “We too have been brought back to life, healed, renewed and filled with hope by the anointing of the Holy One,” he said. “Like Peter, we [. . .] will always be tempted to hear those “whisperings” of the evil One, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission." He warned against "empty forms of triumphalism". Meanwhile, “millions of people continue to ask the question: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Friday celebrated Holy Mass in Rome’s St Peter’s Square on the solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. He noted that "Glory and cross in Jesus Christ go together and can not be separated; for when we abandon the cross, even if we enter into the dazzling splendor of glory, we will deceive ourselves, because that will not be the glory of God, but the joke of the adversary ".
The cardinals he elevated yesterday took part in the Mass, as did many of the metropolitan archbishops nominated this year. As a sign of communion with the latter, the pontiff blessed the palliums before the Mass, then handed them directly, at the end of the service.
Three of the new metropolitan archbishops are from Asia: Mgr Felix Toppo, the new archbishop of Ranchi (India); Mgr Peter Machado, archbishop of Bangalore (India); Mgr Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD, archbishop of Tōkyō (Japan). Of these, only the latter was present at the celebration.
Following a long tradition, a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, took part in the feast of Sts Peter and Paul. It was led by His Eminence Job, Archbishop of Telmessos, accompanied by His Grace Theodoretos, bishop of Nazianzos, and by Rev Alexander Koutsis, patriarchal deacon. Shortly before the Mass, the Pope and Job went to the tomb of Saint Peter at the altar of confession for a silent prayer.
In his homily, referring to today's Gospel (Matthew 16: 13-19), the Pope first of all emphasised Peter's faith in proclaiming Jesus as "the Anointed One".
“Peter speaks up and calls Jesus by the greatest title he could possibly bestow: ‘“You are the Christ’” (cf. Mt 16:16), the Anointed, the Holy One of God. It is good to think that the Father inspired this answer because Peter had seen how Jesus “anointed” his people. Jesus, the Anointed One, walked from village to village with the sole aim of saving and helping those considered lost. He “anointed” the dead (cf. Mk 5:41-42; Lk 7:14-15), the sick (cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14), the wounded (cf. Lk 10:34) and the repentant (cf. Mt 6:17). He anointed with hope (cf. Lk 7:38.46; 10:34; Jn 11:2; 12:3). By that anointing, every sinner – the downcast, the infirm, pagans, wherever they found themselves – could feel a beloved part of God’s family. By his actions, Jesus said in a very personal way: ‘You are mine’. Like Peter, we too can confess with our lips and our heart not only what we have heard, but also concretely experienced in our lives. We too have been brought back to life, healed, renewed and filled with hope by the anointing of the Holy One. Thanks to that anointing, every yoke of slavery has been shattered (cf. Is 10:27). How can we ever lose the joyful memory that we were ransomed and led to proclaim: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (cf. Mt 16:16).
“It is interesting to see what follows this passage in the Gospel where Peter confesses his faith: ‘From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’ (MI 16:21). God’s Anointed kept bringing the Father’s love and mercy to the very end. This merciful love 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 reacts to this completely unexpected announcement by saying: ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you’ (Mt 16:22). In this way, he immediately becomes a stumbling stone in the Messiah’s path. Thinking that he is defending God’s rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord’s enemy; Jesus calls him ‘Satan’. To contemplate Peter’s life and his confession of faith also means learning to recognize the temptations that will accompany the life of every disciple. 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. I speak of ‘whispering’ because the devil seduces from hiding, lest his intentions be recognized. ‘He behaves like a hypocrite, wishing to stay hidden and not be discovered’ (Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, n. 326).
“To share in Christ’s anointing, on the other hand, means to share in his glory, which is his cross: Father, glorify your Son… ‘Father, glorify your name’ (Jn 12:28). In Jesus, glory and the cross go together; they are inseparable. 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.
“Often we 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 demands that we – like Peter – learn to recognize the ‘whisperings’ of the evil one. 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 (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 270).
“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. He wants to set his Church free from grand illusions that fail to sink their roots in the life of God’s faithful people or, still worse, believe that service to the Lord means turning aside from the dusty roads of history. To contemplate and follow Christ requires that we open our hearts to the Father and to all those with whom he has wished to identify (cf. Saint John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49), in the sure knowledge that he will never abandon his people.
“Dear brothers and sisters, millions of people continue to ask the question: ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ (Mt 11:3). Let us confess with our lips and heart that Jesus Christ is Lord (cf Phil 2:11). This is the cantus firmus that we are called daily to intone. With the simplicity, the certainty and the joy of knowing that ‘the Church shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ. Her light is drawn from the Sun of Justice, so that she can exclaim: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Gal 2:20)” (Saint Ambrose, Hexaemeron, IV, 8, 32).
An hour later, at the Angelus, Francis again commented on the confession of faith of the Apostle Peter (Matthew 16:16). "Over the centuries,” he said, “the world has defined Jesus in different ways: as a great prophet of justice and love, a wise master of life, a revolutionary, a dreamer of the dreams of God . . . Amid the babel of these and other suppositions, the confession of Simon, called Peter, a humble and faith-filled man, stands out still today, simple and clear: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (v. 16) . . . This is the new thing that grace ignites in the heart of those who open themselves to the mystery of Jesus: the non-mathematical yet even stronger, inner certainty of having met the Source of Life, Life itself made flesh, visible and tangible among us."
"But even Jesus' answer is full of light: ‘you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it’ (v. 18). This is the first time that Jesus says the word ‘Church’ and he does so expressing all his love towards her, which he defines as ‘my Church’. This is the new community of the Covenant, no longer based on descent and the Law, but on faith in Him, Jesus, the Face of God." He then cited a prayer of the blessed Paul VI from when he was archbishop of Milan.
After the Marian prayer, the pontiff greeted various groups, including some pilgrims from China and Pakistan.