The newly-elected Pope Francis celebrated Mass with the College of Cardinals on Thursday, in the Sistine Chapel.
As the clock struck 5pm, the choir in the Sistine Chapel began to intone the Tu es Petrus, and the new Bishop of Rome processed into the chapel, preceded by the College that the evening before elected him Peter’s Successor.
The first reading was from the Book of the Prophet, Isaiah: “And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.”
The Responsorial Psalm was taken from Psalm 97: “Let us sing to the LORD a new song”.
The Second Reading was from the 1st Letter of St Peter: “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”
The Gospel reading was from St Matthew: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
In his Homily, Pope Francis noted the common theme of movement that ties the three readings together: moving forward, building, professing.
“We walk in the light of the Lord,” said Pope Francis. “Our lives are a journey – when we stop, there is something wrong.” He went on to say that, in our task of building up the Church, Christ is and must be for us the cornerstone. Pope Francis then spoke of the fundamental need to proclaim Christ crucified, saying that, if we walk without the Cross, if we build without the Cross, if we proclaim Christ without the Cross, then we are not disciples of Jesus.
Here’s Vatican Radio’s translation of the full text of his homily:
In these three readings I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.
Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.
Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!
Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.
Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups – there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.
This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.
My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.