During the Mass celebrated this morning on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, the Holy Father canonized blesseds Giovanni Antonio Fraina (1803-1888), Kuriakose Elias Chavara of the Holy Family (1805-1871), Ludovico da Casoria (1814-1885), Nicola da Longobardi (1650-1709), Euphrasia Eluvathingal of the Sacred Heart (1877-1952) and Amato Ronconi (c. 1226-c.1292).
In his homily, the Pope remarked that the kingdom of Jesus is the “kingdom of truth and life, the kingdom of sanctity and grace, the kingdom of justice, love and peace”, and he commented on today’s readings show how the Lord established his kingdom, how He brings it about as history unfolds, and what He now asks of us.
Jesus brought about his kingdom “through his closeness and tenderness towards us”, as the prophet Ezekiel foresaw in the first reading that describes the attitude of the Shepherd towards His flock, using the verbs such as to seek, to keep watch, to round up, to lead to pasture, to bring to rest; to seek the lost sheep, to tend to the wounded, to heal the sick, to care for and to graze. “Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings. In this respect, the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and distinguishing them from hirelings”. After his victory, that is, after the Resurrection – Jesus’ kingdom grew, but it was not a kingdom according to earthly models. “For Him, to reign was 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. … The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged.
The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which He brought about his kingdom”. He explained that those who accomplish these works show that they have understood and welcomed Jesus’ sovereignty, because they have opened their hearts to God’s charity. “In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters. Jesus has opened to us His kingdom to us, but it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now – his kingdom begins now – by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who as for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity, catechesis”.
“Today the Church places before us the examples of these new saints. Each in her or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters. They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbor. They dedicated themselves without reserve to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims. Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and the measure of their unconditional love of God. In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth love for one’s neighbor”. Pope Francis concluded, “Through the rite of canonization, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honored Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for His sheep. 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 it as the compass of our lives”.