By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcoming the Pope and His Message

Yet another vast crowd gathered around Pope Francis, this time for the Palm Sunday Mass. In these last days we have seen a joyful welcome extended to our new Holy Father. There is a widespread feeling of eager anticipation and hope as he assumes the leadership of the Church. Let us hope and pray that we will remain open and welcoming to the guidance he gives. I expect he will be challenging all of us profoundly.

The Mass of Palm Sunday began with an account of another enthusiastic welcome by huge crowds. When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was surrounded by cries of joy and hope. Yet when they realized the challenge that he was giving them, namely that salvation comes through following him in a willingness to embrace the Cross, i.e., to die to self so as to live for God and others, they turned away in rejection, and, in fact, crucified him.

Pope Francis is known as a man of great simplicity and of nearness to the poor. In short, he a man who shows us what it means to live in concert with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a profound challenge to a materialistic, consumeristic and self-centred society. He symbolizes in a compelling manner the call of Jesus himself to turn away from our multiple and harmful attachments and embrace evangelical simplicity so as to be at the service of the poor. He also manifests clearly the joy that issues from such a life, from allowing oneself to be transformed by the words and call of Jesus Christ. As we welcome the person of the Pope may we be equally open to embrace the Gospel.

On a different note, today our Archdiocese is celebrating the Mass of Christian Burial for Fr. Vic Perron, who died last week. He was a holy priest, who did, indeed, embrace the the Gospel of our Lord, or, better, allowed the Gospel fully to embrace him. We are grateful to God for his person, witness and ministry throughout more than forty years of service as a priest. Please spare a prayer or two for the repose of his soul. Requiescat in pace.