Unity and prophecy are the themes of Francis' homily on the day dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. “It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right,” said Francis. “Today we need prophecy, but real prophecy: not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the Gospel is possible. What is needed are not miraculous shows. [. . .] We need lives that show the miracle of God’s love.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican Basilica. In his homily, he said that “if we prayed more and complained less, [. . .] so many closed doors would be opened, so many chains that bind would be broken.”
The two saints were “two very different individuals” who “could argue heatedly”. They were “very different people, yet they saw one another as brothers, as happens in close-knit families where there may be frequent arguments but unfailing love. Yet the closeness that joined Peter and Paul did not come from natural inclinations, but from the Lord,” who “did not command us to like one another, but to love one another.”
This is how the first Christian community was at the time of persecution. “Yet at that tragic moment no one ran away, no one thought about saving his own skin, no one abandoned the others, but all joined in prayer. From prayer they drew strength, from prayer came a unity more powerful than any threat.”
“Let us notice something else: at that dramatic moment, no one complained about Herod’s evil and his persecution. No one abused Herod – and we are so accustomed to abuse those who are in charge. It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right. Complaints change nothing. Let us remember that complaining is the second door that closes us off from the Holy Spirit, as I said on Pentecost Sunday. The first is narcissism, the second discouragement, the third pessimism. Narcissism makes you look at yourself constantly in a mirror; discouragement leads to complaining and pessimism to thinking everything is dark and bleak. These three attitudes close the door to the Holy Spirit. Those Christians did not cast blame; rather, they prayed.”
“Let us ask for the grace to be able to pray for one another. Saint Paul urged Christians to pray for everyone, especially those who govern (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-3). ‘But this governor is…’, and there are many adjectives. I will not mention them, because this is neither the time nor the place to mention adjectives that we hear directed against those who govern. Let God judge them; let us pray for those who govern! Let us pray: for they need prayer. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. Are we carrying it out? Or do we simply talk, abuse and do nothing? God expects that when we pray we will also be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive. Only prayer unlocks chains, as it did for Peter; only prayer paves the way to unity.”
The unity Francis mentioned is particularly linked to the Solemnity of Peter and Paul. On this day a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate traditionally comes to Rome. Not this year, said the Pope, because of the pandemic.
Today is also the day on which the Pope blesses the Pallia, symbol of unity, which are given to the Dean of the College of Cardinals and to metropolitan archbishops appointed during the year. Today is the day when the statue of Peter in the Vatican basilica is dressed in episcopal insignia.
Prophecy is the second word Francis cited today. “Prophecy is born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control. Prophecy is not born from my thoughts, from my closed heart. It is born if we allow ourselves to be challenged by God. When the Gospel overturns certainties, prophecy arises. Only someone who is open to God’s surprises can become a prophet. And there they are: Peter and Paul, prophets who look to the future. Peter is the first to proclaim that Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:16). Paul, who considers his impending death: ‘From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me’ (2 Tim 4:8).
“Today we need prophecy, but real prophecy: not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the Gospel is possible. What is needed are not miraculous shows. It makes me sad when I hear someone say, ‘We want a prophetic Church’. All right. But what are you doing, so that the Church can be prophetic? We need lives that show the miracle of God’s love. Not forcefulness, but forthrightness. Not palaver, but prayer. Not speeches, but service. Do you want a prophetic Church? Then start serving and be quiet. Not theory, but testimony. We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. To seek not the approval of this world, of being comfortable with everyone - here we say: ‘being comfortable with God and the devil’, being comfortable with everyone -; no, this is not prophecy. We need the joy of the world to come. Not better pastoral plans that seem to have their own self-contained efficiency, as if they were sacraments; efficient pastoral plans, no. We need pastors who offer their lives: lovers of God. That is how Peter and Paul preached Jesus, as men in love with God.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,” said Francis, “Jesus prophesied to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church’. There is a similar prophecy for us too. It is found in the last book of the Bible, where Jesus promises his faithful witnesses ‘a white stone, on which a new name is written’ (Rev 2:17). Just as the Lord turned Simon into Peter, so he is calling each one of us, in order to make us living stones with which to build a renewed Church and a renewed humanity. There are always those who destroy unity and stifle prophecy, yet the Lord believes in us and he asks you: ‘Do you want to be a builder of unity? Do you want to be a prophet of my heaven on earth?’ Brothers and sisters, let us be challenged by Jesus, and find the courage to say to him: ‘Yes, I do!’”