In his Sunday Angelus message, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of service rather than special privilege in the Christian community, connecting the day’s gospel reading to the Saturday consistory that created 19 new cardinals.
“Through baptism, we all have the same dignity: all of us, in Jesus Christ, we are sons of God,” the Pope stressed on Feb. 23 to the huge crowds filling St. Peter’s Square and spilling out onto the road.
Many had come to Rome for the consistory of cardinals. Pope Francis took the opportunity to issue a reminder about the importance of a spirit of service in the Church.
“Those who have received a ministry of leadership, preaching, administering the sacraments, should not be considered owners of special powers, but offer service to the community, helping them to walk the path of holiness with joy.”
The Pope then reflected on the scripture passage read at Sunday’s Mass in which St. Paul corrects the early Christians of Corinth for taking pride in following one particular apostle over another.
“St. Paul explains that this way of thinking is wrong, because the community does not belong to the apostles, but it is they who belong to the community, but the community, as a whole, belongs to Christ!” he exclaimed.
The dynamics of a Christian community must be marked by efforts to “build unity, because unity is more important than division.”
To this end, the various members of the Church must pray for one another, insisted the pontiff. “I also invite you to support these pastors and to assist them with prayer, so that they always guide people with the zeal that has been entrusted to them, showing all the tenderness and love of the Lord.”
Such unity and prayer should result in leading lives that witness to the truth, he explained.
“All together, bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful must offer the testimony of a Church faithful to Christ, animated by the desire to serve our brothers and ready to go with prophetic courage to meet the expectations and spiritual needs of the men and women of our time.”
The pontiff urged those gathered to be encouraged by the events of weekend in which 19 new Cardinals from various countries were created.
“May the liturgical moments and celebration that we had the opportunity to live in the last two days strengthen us all in faith and love for Christ and for his Church!”
He asked the crowds to pray for the prelates, that they would be “good servants rather than good masters.”
“May the Virgin Mary accompany us and protect us in this journey,” he concluded, before leading the Angelus prayer.
After the prayer, Pope Francis greeted various pilgrim groups present in the square and wished everyone a “good Sunday and a good lunch.”