Receiving the Pallium from Pope Francis (Photo courtesy Servizio Fotografico – L’Osservatore Romano – with permission)

Pope Francis continues to inspire.

As I walked across St. Peter’s Square today, I was stopped by some people. In a conversation with a gentleman who told me he is not Catholic, he said that it is his impression that Pope Francis is getting the attention of many more people than those who call themselves Catholic, and I would agree.

During yesterday’s homily, the Holy Father continued to repeat a consistent message – we each must manifest Christ in our lives – in our actions – in our care for one another.  Those who claim to follow Christ must be dedicated to serving Christ in their neighbor.

This morning my brother, Fr. Bernie and I made a holy hour in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Peter.  (Prayer was one of Pope Francis’ points from yesterday’s homily.). Somehow, the message is getting clearer – Serve Christ.

In another conversation with someone this week, we were noticing how the Italians have a capacity for ‘living.’  They know in many ways how to be ‘human beings‘ rather than focusing so much on ‘human activity.’

Pope Francis regularly challenges us to ‘recognize’ the human person before us – to learn again how to have meaningful human relationships.  He asks that we look beyond our own needs to those who have far greater needs – and to go out to meet them and do something specific, something which recognizes their humanity, and make a difference in their life.

This theme is represented in the symbolism of the Pallium.  Look at the words by which Pope Francis blessed the Palliums during yesterday’s Mass:

O God, eternal Shepherd of souls, whom by the name of sheep you entrusted through Jesus Christ your Son to be governed by the Blessed Apostle Peter and his Successors according to the model of the Good Shepherd: through our ministry pour out the grace of your blessing upon these Pallia which you have chosen as a symbol of the office of pastoral care.  Graciously accept our humble petitions, and through the merits and prayers of the Apostles grant that those who by your gift will wear this vestment may understand that they are Shepherds of your flock and express by their actions the meaning of this name.  May they take up the yoke of the Gospel placed on their shoulders, and may they find it so light and easy that, as they guide others by their example and fidelity in the way of your commandments, they may merit a place in your eternal pastures.

Through Christ our Lord.

Jesus shares similar words with us in Sunday’s Gospel from St. Matthew. (10:37-42)

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worth of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.

Let us love Christ. Let us manifest Christ to the world through loving service – and together with Pope Francis, let us inspire others to greater service of humanity and the common good.