Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Appropriately, it is also the start of the Consistory where the new 19 Cardinals will be officially made cardinals. The rites will be done with the traditional pomp and splendor. But it is also clear that a new and fresh wind is blowing across the Catholic Church.
Most of the new Cardinals have been chosen not from the traditional centers of power and prestige in the Catholic Church but from the fringes and peripheries. In this deliberate choice, Pope Francis is putting an end to careerism among the clergy and pushing forward a genuine ministry of love and service. He has eschewed the trappings of luxury and wealth of his office and chosen to lead a simple and humble lifestyle. He has focused not so much on keeping people in the Church but on reaching out to everyone – Muslims, Jews, other Christians – to come together in genuine love and brotherhood. And those who are already in the Church, he challenged to go out into the fringes and peripheries of society to seek out and serve the poor.
He has fed us in the one year he has been in office with very inspiring words, waking us from our collective stupor and leading us into a new light and a deeper and stronger understanding of our faith. But beyond words, he has led mostly by example. His practice of calling up people who have written him have truly endeared him to many. He embraces everyone in love and service, even those very repugnant to look at. He does all of this with a palpable joy that is reflected in his trademark smile, which has become iconic of the true joy promised to the followers of Christ.
I pray for Pope Francis and entrust him to God’s loving care. Honestly, I do not know what to ask the Lord to grant the Pope. I can pray that he be given strength and courage given the enormity of the challenges he is facing. But he has shown himself to be already a man of courage and strength by the many radical reforms that he has initiated. I can pray that the Lord grant him wisdom to teach and guide the billions looking up to him for guidance. But he has already inspired millions through his inspiring words in his homilies and papal pronouncements. People today literally hang on to his words for life and inspiration. I can pray that he be blessed with simplicity and humility in the exercise of his leadership and authority as Jesus did. But no one has exemplified authentic servant leadership more than he has. I can just pray for God’s graces and blessings be poured abundantly on him. But no one give what one does not have; so he must have these already in great amounts for he dispense them like he had these in infinite quantity. I will just pray that I can be one with him in his love and dedication to the Lord.
“Lord, bless Pope Francis and he brings your love and blessings to us your people.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”