Pope Francis celebrated the feast of the Chair of St. Peter with a reflection and Mass for members of the Roman Curia, during which he told them to be faithful in their work, and to keep their eyes on Christ.
“May our thought and our gaze be fixed on Jesus Christ, the beginning and end of every action of the Church. He is the foundation and no one may lay another,” the Pope told members of the Curia Feb. 22.
He recalled the “expressive words” used by St. Augustine, who wrote that although the Church is agitated and disturbed by the upheavals of history, she “does not fall down, because she is built on stone, from which Peter's name is derived.”
“It is not the stone that derives its name from Peter, but Peter from the stone, just as it is not the name Christ that derives from Christian, but Christian from Christ,” he said, adding that the stone “is Christ, the foundation on which Peter too was built.”
Pope Francis marked the feast of the Chair of St. Peter with a special Mass for the Jubilee of the Roman Curia, the Governorate and the Institutions of the Holy See in St. Peter's Basilica.
Before the Mass, all the participants gathered in the Paul VI Hall for a meditation on the theme “Mercy in our everyday life.” Afterward, they were led by the Pope in a procession through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s and into the basilica.
In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, saying his question of “who do you say that I am?” is directed not only at Peter, but at each one of them.
The question, Francis said, is both clear and direct, and therefore “it is not possible to escape or remain neutral, nor is it possible to postpone the answer or delegate it to someone else.”
He explained that there is “nothing inquisitional” about the question, but that instead “it is full of love! The love of our only Master, who today calls us to renew our faith in him, recognizing him as the Son of God and the Lord of our life.”
And the first person called to renew the profession of their faith, the Pope said, is himself, the Successor of Peter, since it is he “who bears the responsibility of confirming his brothers.”
Francis then urged members of the Curia to allow grace to form in their hearts and mouths, so that they can both believe and profess the faith, and obtain salvation.
It is from the profession of one’s faith that the task of responding to God’s call derives, the Pope said, explaining that pastors above all are required to model themselves after the Lord, who cares for his flock.
“We are called upon to be God's collaborators in a task as fundamental and unique as bearing witness by our existence the strength of the grace that transforms and the power of the Spirit that renews,” he said.
He prayed that the Lord would free them from all temptations that distance them from the core of their mission, and asked that they would “rediscover the beauty of professing our faith in the Lord Jesus.”
When it comes to their mission, faithfulness in their ministry goes hand in hand with the mercy they hope to experience, he said, noting that in scripture the concepts of faithfulness and mercy “are inseparable.”
“Where there is one there is the other, and it is precisely in their reciprocal nature and complementarity that we can see the very presence of the Good Shepherd,” Francis continued. The faithfulness required of them “is that of acting in accordance with Christ's heart.”
The Pope then encouraged members of the Curia, as the pastors of the Church, “to let the face of God the Good Shepherd illuminate us, purify us, transform us and restore us, fully renewed in our mission.”
He prayed that they would feel, cultivate and practice “a strong pastoral sense” in their workplaces, particularly toward those whom them meet every day.
“May no one feel neglected or mistreated, but may everyone be able to experience, especially here, the loving care of the Good Shepherd.”
Pope Francis closed his homily by stressing that the faithfulness required of them is to act in accordance with Christ’s heart.
“We must tend to our flock with a generous heart and become a model for all,” he said. “In this way, ‘when the Chief Shepherd appears,’ we will be able to receive ‘the crown of glory that will never fade away.’”