Pope at the consistory: With Christ on his road, not off the road

During the consistory held at the Altar of the chair, Pope Francis placed the biretta on 13 new cardinals. Those from the Philippines and Brunei were absent due to problems related to the pandemic. All the cardinals wore masks and stood at a distance from each other. One of the new cardinals, Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, delivered the opening greetings.

 


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis held an ordinary public consistory this afternoon in St Peter’s basilica creating 13 new cardinals. The pontiff had announced the list on 25 October.

Today all but two were present. Archbishop Jose F Advincula of Capiz and Bishop Cornelius Sim of Brunei were unable to make the trip because of a pandemic-related lockdown.

Respectful of the restrictions related to the coronavirus, all the new cardinals present in front of the Altar of the Chair wore masks and stood more than a metre away from each other.

Before the pope gave his thoughts about the Gospel (Mark 10: 32-45), one of the new cardinals, Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, delivered a passionate address praising and thanking the pontiff on behalf of all.

In his homily, Pope Francis warned that going with Christ "on the road ", which is that of the passion, death and resurrection, means making sure of not to going "off the road", i.e. following one’s "own interests", and enjoying being called "eminence" and fail to be a "pastor of the people".

In today’s Gospel, the Pope said, we have “the third announcement of his passion, death and resurrection. This is the road taken by the Son of God. The road taken by the Servant of the Lord. Jesus identifies himself with this road, so much so that he himself is the road. ‘I am the way’ (Jn 14:6), he says. This way, and none other.”

James and John, one of whom wants to sit on the right of the kingdom of Jesus, and the other on the left, request “a different road. Not Jesus’ road, but a different one. The road of those who, perhaps even without realizing it, ‘use’ the Lord for their own advancement. Those who – as Saint Paul says – look to their own interests and not those of Christ (cf. Phil 2:21). Saint Augustine speaks of this in his magnificent sermon on shepherds (No. 46). A sermon we always benefit from rereading in the Office of Readings.”

“Dear brothers,” Francis noted, “all of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be careful to remain on the road. For our bodies can be with him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road. The scarlet of a Cardinal’s robes, which is the colour of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the colour of a secular ‘eminence’.

“In this passage of the Gospel, we are always struck by the sharp contrast between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus is aware of this; he knows it and he accepts it. Yet the contrast is still there: Jesus is on the road, while they are off the road. Two roads that cannot meet. Only the Lord, through his cross and resurrection, can save his straying friends who risk getting lost.

“It is for them, as well as for all the others, that Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem. For them, and for everyone, will he let his body be broken and his blood shed. For them, and for all, will he rise from the dead, and forgive and transform them by the gift of the Spirit. He will at last put them back on his road.

“Saint Mark – like Matthew and Luke – included this story in his Gospel because it contains a saving truth necessary for the Church in every age. Even though the Twelve come off badly, this text entered the canon of Scripture because it reveals the truth about Jesus and about us. For us too, in our day, it is a message of salvation.

“We too, Pope and Cardinals, must always see ourselves reflected in this word of truth. It is a sharpened sword; it cuts, it proves painful, but it also heals, liberates and converts us. For conversion means precisely this: that we pass from being off the road to journeying on God’s road.”

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