If St. Francis is a saint beloved by our new Pope, and to such an extent as to take his name, in the same way we have to say that Pope Francis is devoted to St. Joseph, given that it was on the his feast day that his pontificate in an official way began.
In his homily during the Holy Mass that began his pontificate, Pope Francis invited everyone to imitate St. Joseph who was chosen by God to be the guardian of Jesus, of Mary and as a consequence of the whole of the Church. St. Joseph performed this service with humility, with simplicity and with total faithfulness even when he did not understand to the full what was being asked of him. Only in abandonment to God, in listening to His words, was Joseph able to read the events that affected his family – events that were also tragic, such as the flight to Egypt or the disappearance of Jesus at the temple – and take his decisions.
The vocation to engage in guardianship applies to everyone in this world – not only to believers – and is implemented in many ways, for example by stewarding the creation, that is to say first and foremost the creatures who live in it, and then the environment. All of us must be guardians of people, our neighbours, our families, and the frailest categories of the social fabric such as children, elderly people and the sick..
Pope Francis laid emphasis on the new need to be guardians of the contemporary world against the very many Herods who sow violence and terror. For this reason we are called to be the guardians of peace, opposing violence with goodness and tenderness. Yes, with tenderness, without being ashamed to do so, because tenderness is not weakness but strength of the spirit which expresses itself in love and compassion. As Camillians we were pleased to hear the word ‘tenderness’ spoken on more than one occasion by the lips of the Pope during one of his first homilies. This is a word that is a part of his – and our – ministerial plan!
Pope Francis stated that as the successor to Peter he had received a power, a mandate, which is that which Jesus gave to Peter: to shepherd his flocks, that is the Church. This power is thus a service, the same as the service of guardianship and protection which was specific to St. Joseph and which he engaged in with humility and fidelity.
Pope Francis then ended his homily by entrusting himself to hope because very often the sky above us is grey and cloudy but then clears.