Friday, September 26, 2014

Pope Francis: Life isn't Christian without a Cross !

Vatican City, - Christ as Redeemer cannot be understood save through a willingness to take up the cross, said Pope Francis during his homily for Mass on Friday morning.

The Christian, he said Sept. 26, addressing the congregation gathered in the chapel of the Santa Martha residence, is like the “Cyrene” – referring here to Simon of Cyrene – who helped Christ carry his own Cross.

On the other hand, those who do not take up the cross move forward along a path that only appears to be good.

Christ “prepares us to be the Cyrenians to help him carry the Cross,” the Holy Father said. Without the Cross, “our Christian life” is not Christian.

Our true identity as Christians must be protected, he said. To be a Christian is not something that is earned, but rather a “spiritual path to perfection … it is pure grace.”

Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the day, Pope Francis reflected on the scene in which Christ asks his disciples who the people say that he is, and in turn receives a variety of answers.

This passage, he notes, demonstrates how Christ protected “his true identity.” The Pope recalled how Christ protected his identity at other points of the Gospel as well, such as when he prevented the demons from revealing his identity as the Son of God.

Christ did this, the Pope said, because the people believed the Messiah would be a military leader who would drive out the Romans. It was only to disciples whom he began to “catechize” as to his “true identity.”

“The Son of Man... the Messiah, the Anointed one,” must endure great suffering, and be “rejected by the elders, by chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to rise again.”

“This is the path of your freedom,” he continued. “This is the way of the Messiah, of the Just: the Passion, the Cross.”

In the Gospel passage, the Pope noted how the disciples did not want to understand what Christ was revealing to them with regard to his Passion. Christ, then, “begins to open the mystery of his own identity: 'Yes, I am the Son of God. But this is the way: I must take this path of suffering'.”

Pope Francis said this is the “pedagogy” which Christ used “to prepare the hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people, to understand this Mystery of God”.

“So great is God's love, so hideous is sin,” that Christ saves us “with this identity in the Cross.”

“You cannot understand Jesus Christ the Redeemer without the Cross.”

However, the “hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people,” were not ready to understand Christ in terms of the Cross.

“They did not understood the prophecies, they did not understand that he was in fact the Lamb of God for the sacrifice.”

It was not until Palm Sunday that Christ allowed the crowds to “more or less” reveal his identity by letting them cry out: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The reason for this, the Pope quoted, is that “if this people does not cry out, the stones would have cried out!”

Rather, it is only after his death that Christ's identity fully appears, and the “first confession” is made by the Roman centurion.

“Step by step,” the Pope said, Christ prepares us to understand well. He “prepares us to accompany him with our crosses along the path towards redemption.”

Sep 26, 2014 / 10:03 am (CNA)
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