In his first homily as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis gave us three principles:
to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. At his inauguration, on the feast of St Joseph, he added a fourth principle: Let us protect with love all that God has given us. In speaking of St Joseph as the protector of the infant Christ, of his mother Mary and of the whole Church, Pope Francis called on all of us to protect Christ in our lives, to protect others – especially children, the elderly, the poor, those we think of last – and to protect the environment. He said this means keeping a watch over our emotions, guarding against hatred, envy and pride, acting always out of love.
As we begin Holy Week, we have a wonderful opportunity to walk with Jesus through the events which showed above all his love for all people, his willingness to sacrifice everything to protect us from the effects of sin in our lives and in our world, his victory over hatred, sin and death.
On Monday evening we have a chance to admit our failings and receive the joy of forgiveness. On Wednesday evening we can join with the whole diocese at the Chrism Mass in the Cathedral, when the priests will renew their commitment to service and the Holy Oils will be blessed for use in the sacraments throughout the coming year, with a family from this parish bringing up the Oil of Catechumens. On Thursday evening, the Holy Oils for our parish will be installed in their new place of honour in our church and we will remember the Lord’s service of others as he washed his disciples’ feet and gave them his Body and Blood. On Friday afternoon we will recall his Passion and Death and we will wait quietly until Saturday night, when the joy of his Resurrection breaks forth and we welcome new members into this community of those who believe in him.
As Pope Francis said, ‘To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope!’