July 13, 2023

Verbatim: Pope Francis' homily at the pallium Mass


Pope Francis’ homily at the holy Mass and blessing of the sacred Pallium for Toronto’s Archbishop Francis Leo and other new metropolitan archbishops on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

Peter and Paul: two apostles in love with the Lord, two pillars of the faith of the Church. As we reflect on their lives, today’s Gospel sets before us the question that Jesus posed to His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:16). This is the essential and most important question of all: Who is Jesus for me? Who is Jesus in my life?

Peter’s answer can be summed up in one word: follow. Peter knew what it was to follow the Lord. On that day in Caesarea Philippi, Peter responded to Jesus’ question with a fine profession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). An impeccable, precise… “catechetical” answer. Yet that answer was itself the fruit of a journey. For only after the thrilling experience of following the Lord, walking with Him and behind Him… did Peter arrive at the spiritual maturity that brought him… by pure grace, to so clear a profession of faith.

Matthew tells us it all began one day when, beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus walked by, called Peter and his brother Andrew, “and immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mt 4:20). Peter left everything behind to follow the Lord. The Gospel stresses he did so “immediately.” Peter did not tell Jesus he would think it over; he didn’t calculate the pros and cons…. He left his nets and followed Jesus without demanding any kind of guarantee. He was to learn everything day by day, as a disciple, a follower of Jesus, walking in His footsteps. It is not by chance that in the Gospels the last recorded words of Jesus to Peter were: “Follow me” (Jn 21:22). Follow.

Peter tells us it is not enough to respond to the question — “Who is Jesus for me?” — with a faultless doctrinal formula…. No. It is only by following the Lord that we come to know Him each day, only by becoming His disciples and listening to His words that we become His friends and experience His transforming love. That word “immediately” is also meaningful for us. Many other things can be postponed in life, but not following Jesus; where He is concerned, we cannot hesitate or come up with excuses. We need to be careful, too, because some excuses are disguised as spiritual…. This is one of the Devil’s ploys: it robs us of trust in God’s grace by making us think that everything depends on our own abilities.

To detach ourselves from all earthly forms of security, “immediately,” and to follow Jesus anew each day: such is the charge Peter sets before us today. He invites us to be a “Church that follows.” ...

We now come to the Apostle of the Gentiles. If the word to describe Peter’s answer was follow, for Paul it is proclaim, to preach the Gospel. For Paul too, everything began with grace, with the Lord’s prior initiative. On the road to Damascus, as he led a fierce persecution of Christians, barricaded in his religious convictions, the risen Jesus met him and blinded him by His light. Or better, thanks to that light, Paul came to realize how blind he had been: caught up in the pride of his rigid observance, he discovered in Jesus the fulfilment of the mystery of salvation. Paul then devoted his life to…preaching Jesus Christ. By preaching the Word to others, he was able to peer more deeply into the depths of God’s mystery.

Paul tells us our answer to the question — “Who is Jesus for me?” — is not a privatized piety that leaves us peaceful and unconcerned about bringing the Gospel to others. The Apostle teaches us that we grow in faith and in knowledge of the mystery of Christ when we preach and bear witness to Him before others. ...

Today, a number of our brother Archbishops receive the Pallium, a sign of communion with the Church of Rome. To them I would say: Be apostles like Peter and Paul. Be disciples in following and apostles in preaching. Bring the beauty of the Gospel everywhere, together with all the People of God. …

St. Peter’s Basilica

June 29, 2023

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