At the Altar of the Chair in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated Mass with the new cardinals created in yesterday’s consistory. “[W]hy should we be caught up with earthly concerns?” “Why should we look for ‘patrons’ to help advance our career?” “Some people seem to think that being compassionate, helping and serving others is for losers. Yet these are the only things that win us the victory”. “When the Church worships God and serves our neighbour, she does not live in the night. However weak and weary, she journeys towards the Lord.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis led Mass this morning. In his homily, he noted that it “is the season for remembering” God’s closeness, a time to “be watchful” so that we can escape the “slumber of mediocrity” and the “slumber of indifference”.
The Holy Father concelebrated the service with the new cardinals he created in yesterday’s Consistory, marking the start of Advent. Last evening, the Pope and the cardinals visited Benedict XVI.
In the area of St Peter's Basilica overlooking the Altar of the Chair, in addition to the cardinals, new and old, there were about a hundred faithful, linked in some way to the new cardinals. All those present wore medical masks and kept the distance required by regulations related to the pandemic.
In his homily the Pope also stressed the importance of Advent, the start of the liturgical year, in which “we need to recognize God’s closeness and to say to him: ‘Come close to us once more!’ [. . .] Let us make our own the traditional Advent prayer: ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20). Let us say that prayer at the beginning of each day and repeat it frequently, before our meetings, our studies and our work, before making decisions, in every important or difficult moment of our lives: Come, Lord Jesus!
“If we ask Jesus to come close to us, we will train ourselves to be watchful.” As we watch we wait for the day “amid darkness and weariness. The light of day will come when we shall be with the Lord. Let us not lose heart: the light of day will come, the shadows of night will be dispelled, and the Lord, who died for us on the cross, will arise to be our judge. Being watchful in expectation of his coming means not letting ourselves be overcome by discouragement. It is to live in hope. Just as before our birth, our loved ones expectantly awaited our coming into the world, so now Love in person awaits us. If we are awaited in Heaven, why should we be caught up with earthly concerns? Why should we be anxious about money, fame, success, all of which will fade away? Why should we waste time complaining about the night, when the light of day awaits us?” Why should we look for ‘patrons’ to help advance our career? All these things pass away. Be watchful, the Lord tells us.”
When we are not vigilant, we risk sleeping in the sleep of "mediocrity" and "indifference". The slumber of “mediocrity” comes “when we forget our first love and grow satisfied with indifference, concerned only for an untroubled existence. Without making an effort to love God daily and awaiting the newness he constantly brings, we become mediocre, lukewarm, worldly. And this slowly eats away at our faith, for faith is the very opposite of mediocrity: it is ardent desire for God, a bold effort to change, the courage to love, constant progress. Faith is not water that extinguishes flames, it is fire that burns; it is not a tranquilizer for people under stress, it is a love story for people in love! That is why Jesus above all else detests lukewarmness (cf. Rev 3:16).”
“How can we rouse ourselves from the slumber of mediocrity? With the vigilance of prayer. When we pray, we light a candle in the darkness. Prayer rouses us from the tepidity of a purely horizontal existence and makes us lift our gaze to higher things; it makes us attuned to the Lord. Prayer allows God to be close to us; it frees us from our solitude and gives us hope. Prayer is vital for life: just as we cannot live without breathing, so we cannot be Christians without praying. How much we need Christians who keep watch for those who are slumbering, worshipers who intercede day and night, bringing before Jesus, the light of the world, the darkness of history.”
“There is also another kind of interior slumber: the slumber of indifference. Those who are indifferent see everything the same, as if it were night; they are unconcerned about those all around them. When everything revolves around us and our needs, and we are indifferent to the needs of others, night descends in our hearts. Our hearts grow dark. We immediately begin to complain about everything and everyone; we start to feel victimized by everyone and end up brooding about everything. It is a vicious circle. Nowadays, that night seems to have fallen on so many people, who only demand things for themselves, and are blind to the needs of others.
“How do we rouse ourselves from the slumber of indifference? With the watchfulness of charity. To awaken us from that slumber of mediocrity and lukewarmness, there is the watchfulness of prayer. To rouse us from that slumber of indifference, there is the watchfulness of charity. Charity is the beating heart of the Christian: just as one cannot live without a heartbeat, so one cannot be a Christian without charity. Some people seem to think that being compassionate, helping and serving others is for losers. Yet these are the only things that win us the victory, since they are already aiming towards the future, the day of the Lord, when all else will pass away and love alone will remain. It is by works of mercy that we draw close to the Lord. This is what we asked for in today’s opening prayer: ‘Grant [us]… the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming’. The resolve to run forth to meet Christ with good works. Jesus is coming, and the road to meet him is clearly marked: it passes through works of charity.”