Pope urges a return to the Council to move beyond ourselves
Francis led the Mass in St Peter's Basilica marking the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. “How many times did they prefer to cheer on their own party rather than being servants of all? To be progressive or conservative rather than being brothers and sisters?” he asked. The answer is that his is not how the Lord wants us to be, for we are “his flock, and we can only be so together and as one.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his homily during the Mass marking the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962), which brought together bishops from around the world, summoned by Saint John XXIII, Pope Francis said that we should look at the Church “with God’s eyes, eyes full of love” in order to overcome polarisations, rather than “put our own agendas before the Gospel.”
The pontiff took his inspiration from the question Jesus asked Peter after his Resurrection: “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15). For Francis, “The Second Vatican Council was one great response to this question. To rekindle her love for the Lord, the Church, for the first time in her history, devoted a Council to examining herself and reflecting on her nature and mission. She saw herself once more as a mystery of grace generated by love; she saw herself anew as the People of God, the Body of Christ, the living temple of the Holy Spirit!”
"Yet let us be careful: both the ‘progressivism’ that lines up behind the world and the ‘traditionalism’ – or ‘looking backwards’ – that longs for a bygone world are not evidence of love, but of infidelity. They are forms of a Pelagian selfishness that puts our own tastes and plans above the love that pleases God, the simple, humble and faithful love that Jesus asked of Peter.”
For this reason, Pope Francis wants to “return to the Council’s pure sources of love. Let us rediscover the Council’s passion and renew our own passion for the Council! [. . .] A Church in love with Jesus has no time for quarrels, gossip and disputes. May God free us from being critical and intolerant, harsh and angry!”
As Jesus spoke to Peter, “Feed my sheep”, he assigned “him a new role, that of a shepherd, something entirely new to him. This was in fact a turning point in Peter’s life, for while fishermen are concerned with hauling a catch to themselves, shepherds are concerned with others, with feeding others. Shepherds live with their flocks; they feed the sheep and come to love them. A shepherd is not ‘above’ the nets – like a fisherman – but ‘in the midst of’ his sheep.”
This is precisely the second valuable teaching that the Council helped rediscover: “being in the world with others without ever feeling superior to others, being servants of that higher realm which is the Kingdom of God; bringing the good news of the Gospel into people’s lives and languages, sharing their joys and hopes “.
“How timely the Council remains! It helps us reject the temptation to enclose ourselves within the confines of our own comforts and convictions. The Council helps us imitate God’s approach” for “the Church did not hold the Council in order to admire herself, but to give herself to others.”
Returning to the Council means rediscovering “the living river of Tradition without remaining mired in traditions. The Council rediscovered the source of love, not to remain on mountain heights, but to cascade downwards as a channel of mercy for all. Let us return to the Council and move beyond ourselves, resisting the temptation to self-absorption”.
“Once more, the Lord tells his Church: feed! And as she feeds, she leaves behind nostalgia for the past, regret at the passing of former influence, and attachment to power. For you, the holy People of God, are a pastoral people. You are not here to shepherd yourselves, or to be on the climb, but to shepherd others – all others – with love. And if it is fitting to show a particular concern, it should be for those whom God loves most: the poor and the outcast.”
Finally, the last emphasis on this heritage means that when Jesus asks Peter, he “does not mean just some of the sheep, but all of them” since the Church cannot yield "to the temptation of polarization."
“How many times did they prefer to cheer on their own party rather than being servants of all? To be progressive or conservative rather than being brothers and sisters? To be on the ‘right’ or ‘left’, rather than with Jesus?
“To present themselves as ‘guardians of the truth’ or ‘pioneers of innovation’ rather than seeing themselves as humble and grateful children of Holy Mother Church. All of us are children of God, all brothers and sisters in the Church, all of us making up the Church, all of us. That is how the Lord wants us to be. We are his sheep, his flock, and we can only be so together and as one.”