It was Pope Francis’s first homily as the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics but the message was not just for the faithful who had come in their thousands to St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father went back to the birth of Jesus and took as the foundation for his words the life of Joseph and his role as a protector of Mary and their child Jesus.
His message underlined words which he has used frequently since being elected pope last Wednesday that the Church’s mission was to defend the poor and disadvantaged.
“Please I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill, let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.
“To protect creation, to protect every man and woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope; otherwise the way is open to destruction and hearts are hardened. Let us not allow the omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world,” he said.
Francis then turned to what he believed his role as pope should be and as a leader what the word power meant in his pontificate.
“Never forget that the real power is service. That is the real power for the pope. For the pope to exercise power it should be done in humble service and rich in faith as in the faith of St. Joseph and like him the pope must open his arms to welcome all people of God to welcome them with tenderness, with affection with the tenderness of humanity.
“And that must be done especially for the poorest, the weakest the least important, those who Matthew lists in the final judgement on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the strange, the naked, the sick, those in prison,” he concluded.
It is reckoned around 200,00 heard those words in St Peter’s Square an eclectic gathering from around the world as flags of many nations were waved in the bright sunshine.
It was a homily seen by many as one which will set the underlying tone for his papacy.