Texts, speeches, homilies

Pope's homily at Mass celebrating 25 years since he was ordained a bishop

27 June 2017

Francis' homily at Mass celebrating 25 years since he was ordained as a bishop

Pauline Chapel, Vatican 

Translated by Isabella Haberstock de Carvalho

In the first reading we heard how the dialogue between God and Abraham continues, the dialogue that started with that “leave, leave your land”. In this continuation of the dialogue we find three imperatives: “rise!”, “look!” and “hope!”. Three imperatives that mark the way that Abraham has to follow and also how he should follow it, the inner attitude: rise, look, hope.

“Rise!”. Rise, walk, don’t stay still. You have a task, you have a mission and you have to fulfill it in on the road. Don’t stay seated: rise, on your feet. And Abraham started walking, always on his way. The symbol of this is the tent. The Book of Genesis says that Abraham went with the tent and when he stopped there was the tent. Abraham never built a house for himself while there was this imperative: “Rise!”. He only built an altar, the only thing, to worship He who ordered him to rise, to be on his way, with the tent. “Rise!”.

“Look!”. Second imperative. “Raise your eyes and look around from where you are towards the north and the south, towards the east and the west”. Look. Look the horizon doesn’t build walls. Always look and move forwards. And the mysticism of the horizon is that the more you walk towards it the farther away the horizon seems. Look, look forwards, walking but towards the horizon.

Third imperative: “Hope!”. There’s that beautiful dialogue: “God you have given me a lot but my heir will be this servant” – “The heir will come from you, he will be born from you. Hope!”. And this being told to a man who couldn’t have any heirs due both to his age and also to the sterility of his way. But he will be “from you”. And your heirs – from you – will be “like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted,” (Gen 13,16). And a little farther ahead, “‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness” (cfr Gen 15, 5-6). In the faith of Abraham this justice begins that then the Apostle Paul will continue in his explanation of the justification.

“Rise! Look! – the horizon, no walls, the horizon – Hope!”. And hope is without walls, it’s pure horizon.

But when Abraham was called he had more or less our age: he was about to retire, to retire to rest … He started at that age. An old man with the weight of old age, that old age that brings pain and sickness … But you, as if you were a young man, rise, go, go! As if you were a scout: go! Look and hope. And this Word of God is also for us, that always have a certain age that is like the son of Abraham more or less, there are some younger ones here but the majority are of this age. And today the Lord says the same to us: “Rise! Look! Hope!”. He says now is not the time to close our life, to close our story, to summarize our story. The Lord tells us that our story is open still, it is open until the end, it is open like a mission. And with these three imperatives he indicates the mission: “Rise! Look! Hope!”.

Someone who doesn’t care for us says we are the gerontocracy of the Church. It’s a joke, they don’t understand what they’re saying. We are not “geronti”: we are grandfathers, we are grandfathers. And if we don’t feel that we need to ask for the grace to feel it. We are grandfathers to which our grandchildren look to. Grandfathers that need to give them a sense of what life is without experience. Grandfathers not closed in the melancholy of our stories but open to give this. And to us this “rise, look, hope,” is called “dreaming”. We are grandfathers called to dream and to give our dream to the young people of today: they need it. This way they can take from our dream the strength to prophesize and complete their task.

This brings to memory that section of Luke’s Gospel (2,21-38) with Simeon and Anna: grandparents, but what an ability to dream these two had! And they told all this dream to Saint Joseph, to the Madonna, to the people … And Anna went around talking here and there saying: “It is him! It is him!”, and she told the dream of her life. And this is what today the Lord asks of us: to be grandparents. To have the vitality to give to the young people, because the young expect this of us: to not be closed, to give our best, they expect from our experience, from our positive dreams to bring forward the prophecy and work.

I ask the Lord that he gives us all this grace. Even to those who still have not become grandparents: look at the president [of the bishops] of Brazil, he’s a young man … but he will come! The grace of being grandparents, the grace to dream, and to give this to our young people: they need it.



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