The second Year of Faith came to a close on Sunday 24 November in St Peter’s Square with the celebration of an exceptionally beautiful liturgy. At Mass the relics attributed to the Apostle Peter were venerated in the presence of the Heads of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Benedict XVI had convened the Year of Faith to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962). Speaking yet again with love for his Predecessor, Pope Francis in his homily said: “our thoughts now turn to him with affection and gratitude for this gift which he has given us”.
It was to commemorate the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, which happened around the year 67, that Paul VI convoked the first Year of Faith. The year opened on 29 June 1967 and concluded not long after the closing of Vatican ii, on 30 June 1968, with the profession of the Creed of the People of God . This was the basis of the initiative. As Pope Paul VI noted on 8 March 1967: “if the Council did not explicitly treat the faith, it speaks of it on every page, it acknowledges its vital and supernatural character, it supports it whole and strong, and it builds its doctrines upon it”.
Pope Francis took up the words of Vatican ii saying: “we can bring” to Christ, who is the centre of history and of the life of every man “the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives”. In fact, at the beginning of Gaudium et Spes we read: “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts”.
In the light of the faith to which the Apostles Peter and Paul bore witness and which the Council articulated for our time, the Bishop of Rome wished to look back over the past year as an opportune and favourable time ( kairos , in the language of the Christian Scriptures) to rediscover the beauty of a journey that for every believer began the day of his or her Baptism, standing like a bright lamp for all who wish to draw near to the Lord. For, as Pope Francis explained to catechumens regarding God’s will, it is the Lord who comes to meet man and who rests his gaze upon each person.
On the Sunday dedicated to Christ the King, the Bishop of Rome explained with deeply efficacious words the meaning of his dominion: he is the centre of creation, the centre of the people, the centre of history, namely the history of humanity and of every person. The centrality of Jesus Christ is to be acknowledged and received “in our thoughts, in our words and in our works”, Pope Francis said, for only thus will our thoughts, words and actions be of Christ.
The Pope’s reflection calls into question the history of every person, inviting each one, with the words of the good thief, to implore Jesus and his compassionate gaze.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 24, 2020
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