At the canonization Mass for seven new saints, Pope Francis proposes their imitation. Paul VI "helmsman" of the Council; Msgr. Romero "with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters, "young, courageous, humble, who knew how to love Jesus with all of himself". No "to half measures"; not a Church that "only preaches good precepts" and does not "throw itself into love". The "monotony of a Christian life without impetus", full of narcissism and sadness.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The saints that Pope Francis canonized today, "in different contexts, put today’s Word into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind. May the Lord help us to imitate their example". With these words the Pope concluded his homily during the solemn celebration in St. Peter's Square, along with dozen of thousands of faithful from all over the world.
The new saints
The blessed offered to the devotion of the whole Church come from "different contexts": Pope Paul VI (Giovanni Battista Montini, 1897 -1978), who led the Church after Vatican Council II; Msgr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, archbishop of San Salvador (1917-1980), killed while celebrating Mass; Francesco Spinelli (1853-1913), Milanese diocesan priest, founder of the Institute of the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Sacramentine of Bergamo; Vincenzo Romano (1751-1831), diocesan priest of Torre del Greco (Naples), famous for his commitment to evangelization towards the young, the poor, criminals; Maria Caterina Kasper (1820-1898), virgin, German, foundress of the Institute of the Poor Servants of Jesus Christ, who lived an apostolate for the poor, the elderly, children and orphans; Nazaria Ignazia of Saint Teresa of Jesus (born: Nazaria Ignazia March Mesa, 1889-1943), virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia. Of Spanish origin, she also worked in Argentina for the promotion of women and for the service to the poor; Nunzio Sulprizio (1817-1836), a young worker in love with Jesus, who died at the age of only 19, considered the protector of the disabled and victims of labor.
In his homily, Francis mentioned in particular Paul VI, who "spent his life for Christ’s Gospel, crossing new boundaries and becoming its witness in proclamation and in dialogue, a prophet of a Church turned outwards, looking to those far away and taking care of the poor. Even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally. Today he still urges us, together with the Council whose wise helmsman he was, to live our common vocation: the universal call to holiness".
The Pope also had some words also for the martyr, Abp. Romero: "who left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people, with a heart drawn to Jesus and his brothers and sisters".
Breaking from the prepared text, he also dedicated some words to Nunzio Sulprizio, "our young, courageous, humble saint, who knew how to love Jesus with his whole self".
From observing the laws to giving oneself
The homily was an invitation to follow the same path of the saints, taking as a starting point today's gospel (28th Sunday for year, B, Mark 10, 17-30), that of the rich young man who refuses to follow Jesus.
The young man "is seeking life without end, life in its fullness: who of us would not want this? Yet we notice that he asks for it as an inheritance, as a good to be obtained, to be won by his own efforts.".
Instead, "Jesus proposes to him a story of love. He asks him to pass from the observance of laws to the gift of self, from doing for oneself to being with God. And the Lord suggests to the man a life that cuts to the quick: “Sell what you have and give to the poor…and come, follow me” "(V. 21).
"Jesus is radical. He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart. Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange? We cannot respond to him, who made himself our servant even going to the cross for us, only by observing some of the commandments. We cannot give him, who offers us eternal life, some odd moment of time. Jesus is not content with a “percentage of love”: we cannot love him twenty or fifty or sixty percent. It is either all or nothing".
The Pope then proposed an examination of conscience: "Let us ask for the grace always to leave things behind for love of the Lord: to leave behind wealth, the yearning for status and power, structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world. Without a leap forward in love, our life and our Church become sick from “complacency and self-indulgence” (Evangelii Gaudium, 95): we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum, where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled".
Riches and sadness
Outside this momentum there is only attachment to riches and sadness. He said "if our hearts are crowded with goods, there will not be room for the Lord, who will become just one thing among the others.For this reason, wealth is dangerous and – says Jesus – even makes one’s salvation difficult. Not because God is stern, no! The problem is on our part: our having too much, our wanting too muchsuffocates our hearts and makes us incapable of loving".
"Sadness is the proof of unfulfilled love, the sign of a lukewarm heart. On the other hand, a heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today."
Before the Angelus prayer, at the conclusion of the Mass, Francis greeted all those present, in particular Rowan Williams and the delegation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Among the political personalities, he greeted "Queen Sofia [of Spain], the President of the Italian Republic, the presidents of Chile, El Salvador and Panama". The ceremony was also attended by the vice-president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Catholic Chen Chien-jen, who also had a personal audience with the pontiff.