Sabato, 20 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Francis's homily for inaugural mass

English
© ANSA

Vatican City, March 19 - The following is the
official translation from Vatican Radio of Pope Francis's homily
for the inauguration mass of his papacy on Tuesday.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can
celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine
ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the
Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a
significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my
venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers,
full of affection and gratitude.
I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and
bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all
the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other
Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the
representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious
communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the
Heads of State and Government, the members of the official
Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the
Diplomatic Corps.
In the Gospel we heard that "Joseph did as the angel of the
Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife" (Mt 1:24). These
words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph:
he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of
Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the
Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: "Just as Saint
Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to
Jesus Christ's upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects
Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is
the exemplar and model" (Redemptoris Custos, 1).
How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly,
humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter
fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the
time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the
twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at
every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at
her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for
the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave
birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the
frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the
day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where
he taught his trade to Jesus.
How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector
of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to
God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God's
plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of
David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a
house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan.
It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones
sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a "protector" because he is able
to hear God's voice and be guided by his will; and for this
reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to
his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in
touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions.
In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God's call,
readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian
vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives,
so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not just
something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior
dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means
protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the
Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed
us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting
the environment in which we live. It means protecting people,
showing loving concern for each and every person, especially
children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we
think about. It means caring for one another in our families:
husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as
parents, they care for their children, and children themselves,
in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere
friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect,
and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our
protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors
of God's gifts!
Whenever human beings fail to live up to this
responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for
our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and
hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history
there are "Herods" who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the
countenance of men and women.
Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of
responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all
men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation,
protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one
another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of
destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!
But to be "protectors", we also have to keep watch over
ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile
our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over
our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good
and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We
must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!
Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands
goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels,
Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working
man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the
virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a
capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to
others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of
tenderness!
Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are
celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of
Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain
power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but
what sort of power was it? Jesus' three questions to Peter about
love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my
sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and
that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more
fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the
Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful
service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open
his arms to protect all of God's people and embrace with tender
affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the
weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the
final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger,
the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only
those who serve with love are able to protect!
In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who,
"hoping against hope, believed" (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope!
Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of
hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To
protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look
upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of
hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy
clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us
Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we
bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up
before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is
God.
To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of
creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to
protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is
called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so
that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with
love all that God has given us!
I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph,
Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit
may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me!
Amen.

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