A Brief Reflection on Pope Francis’ homily from today’s Mass in the Sistine Chapel

A Brief Reflection on Pope Francis’ homily from today’s Mass in the Sistine Chapel

I couldn’t help but notice that the word “cammino”, journey or pilgrimage, featured prominently in both Pope Francis’ homily today (full text of the homily here) and in his remarks on the balcony yesterday in his first appearance as pope. It’s kind of obscured by the translations but was very distinctive as I listened to it in the Italian. Not that my Italian is all that hot, but that word kind of jumped out at me listening to both.

First, it really struck me yesterday that he was inviting us to begin a journey with him:

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

Note how he repeats that word, journey, cammino four times. As I was listening to his remarks I noted it as seeming very distinctive.

Today’s homily seems to pick up the same theme of cammino. His homily highlights how all three readings have in common movement. The first of the three is Camminare, Israel’s walk with the Lord:

Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

As I listened this afternoon it jumped out at me. He used it again and again both as a noun and a verb—cammino and camminare. And in this homily he clarifies that the journey of the Christian must always be the way of the cross:

“When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.”

The translator here uses several different words to translate cammino—journey, walk, path so that it isn’t nearly so striking in the English version.

So the idea of pilgrimage with the cross: a perfect image for Lent.

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage – the courage – 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. In this way, the Church will go forward.

I know it’s very early and I’ve only got a small sample to work from, two addresses—still, I wonder whether cammino won’t be the theme of his pontificate in the same way that “Be Not Afraid” characterized john Paul II. In any case, I am very much looking forward to this journey with our new Papa.

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  • Just last week I heard the author of this book in an interview on the Mars Hill Audio Journal, and it sounded worth pursuing. I’m glad you mention the number of pages, which makes me think I might actually get it read.