Pope Francis censes the relics of St. Peter the Apostle on the altar during a Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 24. The bone fragments, which were discovered during excavations of the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica in the 1940s, are kept in the pope's private chapel but had never been displayed in public. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)
Below is the VIS translation of Pope Francis' homily given yesterday
in Rome on the Solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, marking the end
of The Year of Faith
“Today’s solemnity of Our Lord Jesus
Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, also
marks the conclusion of the Year of Faith opened by Pope Benedict XVI,
to whom our thoughts now turn with affection and gratitude for this gift
which he has given us. By this providential initiative, he gave us an
opportunity to rediscover the beauty of the journey of faith begun on
the day of our Baptism, which made us children of God and brothers and
sisters in the Church. A journey which has as its ultimate end our full
encounter with God, and throughout which the Holy Spirit purifies us,
lifts us up and sanctifies us, so that we may enter into the happiness
for which our hearts long.
“I offer a cordial and fraternal
greeting to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic
Churches present. The exchange of peace which I will share with them is
above all a sign of the appreciation of the Bishop of Rome for these
communities which have confessed the name of Christ with exemplary
faithfulness, often at a high price.
“With this gesture, through
them, I would like to reach all those Christians living in the Holy
Land, in Syria and in the entire East, and obtain for them the gift of
peace and concord.
“The Scripture readings proclaimed to us have
as their common theme the centrality of Christ. Christ is at the centre,
Christ is the centre. Christ is the centre of creation, Christ is the
centre of his people and Christ is the centre of history.
apostle Paul, in the second reading, taken from the letter to the
Colossians, offers us a profound vision of the centrality of Jesus. He
presents Christ to us as the first-born of all creation: in him, through
him and for him all things were created. He is the centre of all
things, he is the beginning: Jesus Christ, the Lord. God has given him
the fullness, the totality, so that in him all things might be
reconciled. He is the Lord of creation, he is the Lord of
“This image enables to see that Jesus is the
centre of creation; and so the attitude demanded of us as true believers
is that of recognizing and accepting in our lives the centrality of
Jesus Christ, in our thoughts, in our words and in our works. And so our
thoughts will be Christian thoughts, thoughts of Christ. Our works will
be Christian works, works of Christ; and our words will be Christian
words, words of Christ. But when this centre is lost, when it is
replaced by something else, only harm can result for everything around
us and for ourselves.
“Besides being the centre of creation and
the centre of reconciliation, Christ is the centre of the people of God.
Today, he is here in our midst. He is here right now in his word, and
he will be here on the altar, alive and present amid us, his people. We
see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes
of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before
the Lord. In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God
himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on
their journey, who would be a brother to them.
descendant of King David, is really the 'brother' around whom God’s
people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us,
even at the price of his life. In him we are all one, one people, united
with him and sharing a single journey, a single destiny. Only in him,
in him as the centre, do we receive our identity as a people.
Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of
the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the
hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus
is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he
gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.
all the others treat Jesus with disdain 'If you are the Christ, the
Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!' the thief
who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified
Jesus and begs him: 'Remember me, when you come into your kingdom'.
Jesus promises him: 'Today you will be with me in paradise', in his
kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation;
whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord
does not let such a petition go unheard. Today we can all think of our
own history, our own journey. Each of us has his or her own history: we
think of our mistakes, our sins, our good times and our bleak times. We
would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own
personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely
and quietly: 'Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom!
Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the
strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can
remember me because you are at the centre, you are truly in your
kingdom!' How beautiful this is! Let us all do this today, each one of
us in his or her own heart, again and again. 'Remember me, Lord, you who
are at the centre, you who are in your kingdom'.
to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is
always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants
more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been
asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom!
Let us go forward together on this road!”.