Before the Mass in St Peter’s Square at which he formally inaugurated his Petrine ministry, Pope Francis greeted the people in the square. At one point he asked for the Popemobile to stop. He had seen a disabled man being supported by his friends. The Pope got out of the vehicle, went over, kissed him gently and blessed him.

This simple, tender gesture was a lived parable of the words he was to address to the Church and the world a short time later.

In a homily fragrant with the Franciscan spirit, Francis called us to be protectors of creation, of each other, and especially of the weak and poor.

“It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us… It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents.”

“In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!”

But this must be done in love – “Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”

Indeed, not only with love, but tenderness. “Caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness.We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.”
Pope Francis sees himself called to model this Christ-like tenderness before the world. “He [the Pope] must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.”
May the Lord be blessed for Pope Francis, this humble servant who invites us to live the Gospel in loving  tenderness.