Pope delivers homily on Solemnity of Christ the King and signs new apostolic letter marking the end of the Year of Mercy
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VATICAN CITY — The grandeur of God’s kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but a divine love capable of encountering and healing all things, Pope Francis said today in his homily at the closing Mass of the Holy Year of Mercy.
During the liturgy, the Pope closed the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Addressing new cardinals, clergy and faithful, on the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, the pope said that by lowering himself to suffer the “lowest point of our human condition … our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being.”
“This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear,” he said. “Today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8).”
Yet having Jesus as our King means little unless we make him Lord of our lives, Pope Francis added.
Drawing on today’s Gospel reading to highlight different approaches to Christ’s kingship, the Pope drew attention to three kinds of people present at Christ’s crucifixion.
The first, he said, are those who “stood by, watching,” who are tempted to “keep their distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us.”
Yet we are called to “follow his tangible love” by asking ourselves each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”
A second group are the leaders of the people who mock Jesus, who called on Christ to save himself. They tempt Jesus to give up “reigning as God wills and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies,” the Pope said.
This is the most “terrible temptation,” the Pope said, saying here they tempted Jesus “just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies! If he is God, let him show his power and superiority!
This temptation, the pope explained, “is a direct attack on love: ‘save yourself’ (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself.”
Yet, he added, Jesus “does not react” but rather “continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.”
The final group of people are represented by the thief who begs Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. He was not “closed in on himself” but rather, aware of his sins, “turned to Jesus” and asked to be “remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy,” the Pope said.
“As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us,” he continued. “He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.”
“This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential,” he said. “This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission.”
The Pope concluded his homily saying: “Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope.”
“Even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.”
New Apostolic Letter
At the conclusion of today’s liturgy, after leading the noonday Angelus, Pope Francis signed an apostolic letter, Misericordia et misera, to mark the end of the Holy Year.
The letter, which calls on all the Church to continue practicing mercy with the same intensity as during the Jubilee year, will be published tomorrow.