On Sunday, October 18, in St. Peter’s Square the Pope celebrated Holy Mass for the canonization of Blesseds Vincenzo Grossi (1845-1917), diocesan priest and founder of the Institute of the Daughters of the Oratory; Maria Isabel Salvat Romero (Mary of the Immaculate Conception), (1926-1998), superior general of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Company of the Cross; and the spouses Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Zelie Guerin (1831-1877).
In his homily, Pope Francis emphasized that “service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church. Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility. … By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’”.
“In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one Who receives from God ‘dominion, glory and kingship’”, the Holy Father affirmed. Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that He enjoys dominion because He is a servant, glory because He is capable of abasement, kingship because He is fully prepared to lay down His life. By His passion and death, He takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon His Church. There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honor, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified”.
Instead, he continued, “compatibility exists between Jesus, ‘the man of sorrows’, and our suffering. … Jesus knows our difficulties at first hand, He knows from within our human condition; the fact that He is without sin does not prevent Him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is the glory of one Who loves men and women, Who accepts them and shares in their weakness, Who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations”.
“The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. … The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession”.
Following Mass and before the Sunday Angelus prayer, the Pope spoke about the situation of tension and violence that continues to afflict the Holy Land. “At this time, there is a need for great courage and fortitude to reject hatred and revenge and to make gestures of peace”; he remarked. “We pray that God may reinforce in all, governors and citizens alike, the courage to oppose the violence and to take concrete steps towards pacification. In the current context of the Middle East, it is crucial, more than ever, that there be peace in the Holy Land: God and the good of humanity demand this of us”.