VATICAN CITY (CNS): “It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right,” Pope Francis said during Mass on the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul at St. Peter’s Basilica on June 29, stressing, “Complaints change nothing.”
The pope suggested that people ask themselves: “Are we protecting our unity with prayer, the unity of the Church? Are we praying for one another? What would happen if we prayed more and complained less?”
He said the answer lies in what happened to Peter in prison: closed doors open and chains break.
The pope asked people to pray for everyone, especially those who govern. “God will judge them, but we should pray for those who govern. Pray. They need prayers. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. Are we carrying it out? Or do we simply talk, insult them and that’s all?” he asked.
Pope Francis noted some will always want to destroy unity and stifle prophets, but Jesus challenges everyone to be—like Peter—a rock for building a renewed Church and renewed humanity, and—like Paul—a missionary who brings the gospel to others.
The feast day celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica was markedly different from other years because of ongoing restrictions in place to stem the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Normally archbishops who were appointed over the course of the previous year would have been invited to concelebrate with the pope and watch as he blessed their palliums, woollen bands worn around their shoulders.
The 54 archbishops from 33 different countries were named over the past 12 months were not there. Instead, a congregation of about 90 people attended the Mass concelebrated by the pope, nine of the 11 cardinal-bishops resident in Rome and the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Angelo Cardinal Comastri.
While the actual imposition of the pallium was to take place in each archbishop’s archdiocese, Pope Francis did place a pallium on Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, the new dean of the College of Cardinals. Conferring a pallium on a new dean was a custom begun by St. John Paul II.
The world needs “not speeches, but service. Not theory, but testimony,” he said. “We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. To seek not the approval of this world, but the joy of the world to come. Not better pastoral plans, but pastors who offer their lives—lovers of God.”— Pope Francis
The pallium symbolises an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusts to him. The pope blessed the palliums after they were brought up from the crypt above the tomb of St. Peter.
In his homily, the pope said Ss. Peter and Paul demonstrate unity in diversity; they were two very different individuals, who sometimes argued heatedly, but they saw one another as brothers united by Jesus.
Jesus “did not command us to like one another, but to love one another,” the pope said. “He is the one who unites us, without making us all alike.”
When the early Church faced fierce persecution, the pope said, “no one ran away, no one thought about saving his own skin, no one abandoned the others, but all joined in prayer,” which created “a unity more powerful than any threat.”
They also prayed instead of complaining about the injustice they faced, the pope added.
The feast day also highlights the importance of prophecy, which is “born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control,” Pope Francis said.
“Today the world needs real prophecy, not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the gospel is possible,” he said.
“What is needed are not miraculous shows,” the pope said, “but lives that show the miracle of God’s love. Not forcefulness, but forthrightness.”
The world needs “not speeches, but service. Not theory, but testimony,” he said. “We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. To seek not the approval of this world, but the joy of the world to come. Not better pastoral plans, but pastors who offer their lives—lovers of God.”