The Pope: Cultivate the desire to enter, with the grace of God, his Kingdom

Pope’s words at the Angelus

At noon today, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Father Francis looked out of the window of the study of the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims present in Saint Peter’s Square.

These were the words of the Pope when introducing the Marian prayer:


Pope’s words

Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!

Today, Solemnity of the Saints Apostles Peter and Paul, in the Gospel Jesus says to Simon, whom He named Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19). This is why often we see Saint Peter depicted holding two large keys, as in the statue here in this Square. Those keys represent the ministry of authority that Jesus entrusted to him in the service of all the Church. Because authority is a service, and authority that is not service is dictatorship.

Let us be careful, though, to understand well the meaning of all this. The keys of Peter, in fact, are the keys of a Kingdom, which Jesus does not describe as a safe or a vault, but with other images: a tiny seed, a precious pearl, a hidden treasure, a handful of yeast (cf. Mt 13:1-33), that is, like something precious and rich, yes, but at the same time small and inconspicuous. To reach it, therefore, one does not need to operate mechanisms and safety locks, but to cultivate virtues such as patience, attention, constancy, humility, service.

Therefore, the mission that Jesus entrusts to Peter is not that of barring the doors to the house, permitting entry only to a few select guests, but of helping everyone find the way to enter, in faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus. For everyone: everyone, everyone, everyone can enter.

And Peter will do this throughout his life, faithfully, until his martyrdom, after having been the first to experience for himself, not without fatigue and with many setbacks, the joy and the freedom that come from meeting the Lord. He was the first to have to convert, and to understand that authority is a service, in order to open the door to Jesus, and it was not easy for him. Let us think: just after saying to Jesus, “You are the Christ”, the Master had to reproach him, because he refused to accept the prophecy of His passion and His death by the cross (cf. Mt 16:21-23).

Peter received the keys to the Kingdom not because he was perfect, no: he is a sinner; but because he was humble, honest, and the Father had given him sincere faith (cf. Mt 16:17). Therefore, entrusting himself to God’s mercy, he was able to support and fortify his brethren too, as was asked of him (cf. Lk 22:32).

Today we can ask ourselves, then: do I cultivate the desire to enter, with God’s grace, into His Kingdom, and to be, with His help, its welcoming guardian for others too? And to do so, do I let myself be “polished”, softened, modelled by Jesus and His Spirit, the Spirit who dwells in us, in each one of us?

May Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and the Saints Peter and Paul, grant for us, with their prayers, to be a guide and support to one another for the encounter with the Lord Jesus.


After the Angelus the Pope continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you all, who have come on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and I greet the Romans in a special way! Today I would like my greeting to reach all the inhabitants of Rome, all of them, together with my prayer; for families, especially those who struggle the most; for the elderly, those who are loneliest; for the sick, the imprisoned, and those who for various reasons are in difficulty. I hope that everyone might have the experience of Peter and Paul; namely that the love of Jesus Christ may save their life and drive them to give it, drive them to give it with joy, with gratuitousness. Life is not sold.

I greet the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, gathered in Rome for their General Chapter; and I congratulate them on the great flower display organized by the “Pro Loco” group in Piazza Pio XII, created by master florists from various parts of Italy. Thank you, thank you very much! I can see them from here, they are beautiful!

I think with sorrow of the brothers and sisters who are suffering because of war: let us pray for all the populations wounded and threatened by fighting, that God may free them and support them in the struggle for peace. And I give thanks to God for the freeing of the two Greek Catholic priests. May all the prisoners of this war soon return home! Let us pray together: may all the prisoners return home.

I wish you all a good feast day. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch, and arrivederci!