Pictures suggest a lot about the people in them.

The cardinals flanking Pope Francis as he gave his Christmas address seem to indicate that the Pope’s comments last week were not received with overwhelming enthusiasm.

Pope Francis Christmas

“I have to say, I didn’t feel great walking out of that room today,” one senior Vatican official said, who had been in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina for the speech and who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

 “I understand that the pope wants us to live up to our ideals, but you wonder sometimes if he has anything positive to say about us at all,” the official said, who’s been in Vatican service for more than two decades….
The body language on Monday among the cardinals and archbishops who make up the Vatican’s power structure suggest that reaction wasn’t isolated. There were few smiles as the pope spoke and only mild applause; since Francis delivered the address in Italian, it wasn’t because his audience didn’t understand.
 But it is not all bad news for Francis. He does have sympathetic allies in the hierarchy of his church.
“Whoever was elected the pope knew that one of his biggest challenges was going to be the renewal of the central administration of the church, and Pope Francis is doing that with great energy, and he has our support,” said O’Malley, who is the archbishop of Boston….Asked about the pope’s address, O’Malley compared to the pope to “a Jesuit novice master,” or teacher. “He wants all of us priests and bishops to be the very best version of ourselves, and an Advent message is a call for an examination of conscience, and the Holy Father is very good at doing that,” O’Malley said.O’Malley said Pope Francis was urging church leaders to open the church doors and try to help people who are hurting. “I think all of us have to look into our hearts and see how we can be better disciples, and live the challenge of the gospel with renewed generosity, and not be a church that’s turned in on ourselves,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley hits the nail on the head.The Pope’s words are not just about the Curia. They are not aimed exclusively at the Vatican, or the priests of the Roman Church. The Pope’s words are for all people who consider themselves followers of Jesus.
Pope Francis is a modern day prophet. Prophets call people to face the truth. He calls us to face the truth about the institutions we have created and the truth about the world in which we live and for which God calls us to care with deep compassion.
Most important of all, as a prophet, Pope Francis calls all people to look deeply within and be honest about our own lives. As Bishop O’Malley rightly states, the Pope is calling us to  “look into our hearts and see how we can be better disciples, and live the challenge of the gospel with renewed generosity.”
As a new year approaches the instruction to “look into our hearts” carries a powerful potential for healing and hope in the human community. To the degree that we are willing to see the reality of our lives, we will be empowered to live more fully as the instruments for healing and reconciliation we were created to be.