Pope Francis blessed the pallia for the new Metropolitan Archbishops on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29, and presided at the Mass for the Solemnity, which was celebrated by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals.
In his homily at the Mass, the Holy Father focused on two expressions from the day’s readings: “Get up quickly,” the command of the angel to St. Peter as he languished in prison; and St Paul’s call to Christians to “fight the good fight,” from the Apostle’s Letter to St. Timothy.
He reflected on the meaning of these two phrases for “today’s Christian community, engaged in the synodal process.”
‘Get up quickly’
St. Peter, the pope recalled, had been imprisoned by Herod when an angel appeared to him, woke him, and ordered him to “get up quickly.”
“The scene reminds us of Easter, because it contains two verbs present in the account of Resurrection: ‘awaken’ and ‘get up.’ For Peter, this was the beginning of his escape from Herod’s jail, while for the Church it stands as a call to enter into the mystery of the Resurrection, and allow the Lord to guide us along the paths he wishes to point out to us,” the pope explained.
Often, however, “we experience forms of resistance that prevent us from setting out,” including laziness, or fear of change, leading to spiritual mediocrity, he said.
“We are called by the Synod now in progress to become a Church that gets up, one that is not turned in on itself, but capable of pressing forward, leaving behind its own prisons and setting out to meet the world,” he pointed out
‘Fight the good fight’
The second phrase comes from St. Paul’s Letter to Timothy, where, looking back on his whole life, he says, “I have fought the good fight.”
St. Paul sees that fight going on throughout history, “since many people are not disposed to accept Jesus, preferring to pursue their own interests and follow other teachers.”
Having fought his own battles, St. Paul calls on Timothy and the Christians in the community to carry on his work “with watchful care, preaching, and teaching.”
Pope Francis said Paul’s exhortation “is also a word of life for us,” helping us realize that we are all called to be missionary disciples, with everyone offering their own contribution.
The pope posed two questions for modern Christians. First, he said, we must ask “What can I do for the Church?”
He warned against complaining about the Church and invited the faithful to participate in the Church’s work with passion and humility.
This, he said, “is what a synodal Church means: everyone has a part to play, no individual in the place of others or above others.”
Then, “What can we do together, as Church, to make the world in which we live more humane, just and solidary, more open to God and to fraternity among men?”
This does not mean retreating into “ecclesial circles,” trapped in fruitless debates, but instead, “helping one another to be leaven in the dough of the world.”
“In a word, we are called to be a Church that promotes the culture of care and compassion towards the vulnerable,” he explained.
The Church, he said, is called to “fight all forms of corruption and decay… so that in the life of every people the joy of the Gospel may shine forth.” This, he said, is our “good fight.”
Blessing of pallia, greetings to Orthodox delegation
Finally, recalling the “fine tradition” of the blessing of the pallia—a liturgical vestment worn by Metropolitan Archbishops that symbolizes union with the pope—Pope Francis reminded the archbishops that “they are called to ‘get up quickly’ in order to serve as vigilant sentinels over the flock, and to ‘fight the good fight,’ never alone, but together with the holy and faithful people of God.”
He invited them to “journey together, because only together can we be the seed of the Gospel, and witnesses of fraternity.”
Christopher Wells/Vatican News
Image credits: Vatican News