On the Feast of Christ the King, during the canonization Mass of six new saints, Pope Francis said that Jesus Christ’s kingdom comes through his works of mercy--works that Christians must imitate with tenderness. “In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters,” the Pope said Sunday to myriad people in St. Peter’s Square. “If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.” “Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways,” the Holy Father said. Rather, “his reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfillment.” Salvation does not begin with confessing Christ’s sovereignty, the Pope said, but with “the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom.” In so doing one opens “his heart to God’s charity.” Tens of thousands of people attended the Nov. 23 Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, which featured the canonizations of six men and women. Four of the new saints were from Italy: Giovanni Antonio Farina, Ludovico da Casoria, Nicola da Longobardi and Amato Ronconi. The other two were from India: Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Eufrasia Eluvathingal. Pope Francis’ homily discussed the Mass readings. The first reading from Ezekiel presents God as Shepherd and his people as his sheep. The Pope said the reading reveals the shepherd’s “care and love” for his flock: “to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture.” The Pope said Jesus “brought about his kingdom... through his closeness and tenderness towards us.” Pope Francis then turned his reflection to the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew 25, where Jesus Christ commends those who have inherited the Kingdom: “for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” This reading “reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged,” the Pope explained. Pope Francis spoke of the new saints canonized at the beginning of the Mass. He said each of them “served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters.” These men and women, he said, “sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God,” which in turn led to their love of neighbor, especially the poor. “May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace the Gospel as the compass of our lives.” Pope Francis then called on the faithful to imitate these new saints in “faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality.” “May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests,” he said, concluding his homily: “And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.” Before bestowing the final blessing at the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis briefly welcomed the delegations from India and Italy who had come to Rome for the canonizations. The four new Italian saints, he said, caring as they did for the people and working toward the common good, “trusted in the nearness of God who never abandons (us), even in difficult moments.” Speaking of the two new saints from India, the Pope said through their intercession, “the Lord will grant a new missionary drive to the Church” in the country. He said India’s Christians can be “inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation” and “continue along the path toward solidarity and fraternal coexistence.” Pope Francis then led the recitation of the Angelus in Latin, after which he wished everyone a good Sunday, and asked them to remember him in their prayers.
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