Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his Angelus address on Sunday from his studio above St Peter's Square, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading from Mark. For the Holy Father, “Following Jesus means taking up one’s own cross to accompany him on his journey, an uncomfortable journey that is not that of success or earthly glory, but one leads to true freedom, freedom from selfishness and sin,” rejecting “the temptation of the Evil One, who wants to turn us away from God’s will”.
The pontiff addressed the 50,000 people who gathered in St Peter's Square to hear today’s Angelus and the passage in the Gospel in which Jesus and his disciples "set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi." Along the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ (Mk 8:27).
“They responded saying that some people thought he was John the Baptist restored to life. Others thought that he was Elijah or one of the great prophets. People liked Jesus, considered him as someone 'sent by God', but were still unable to recognise him as the foretold and expected Messiah.
“‘But who do you say that I am?’ (V. 29). That is the most important question, with which Jesus spoke directly to those who followed him, to test their faith. Peter, on everyone’s behalf, bluntly said to him in reply, ‘You are the Messiah.’ (v. 29). Jesus was impressed by Peter’s faith, and acknowledged that it was the fruit of a special grace of God the Father. At that point, he openly revealed to his disciples what was going to happen in Jerusalem, namely ‘that the Son of Man must suffer greatly . . . and be killed, and rise after three days’ (v. 31)."
"Peter himself, who just professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, was scandalised by these words. He took the Master aside and scolded him. What does Jesus do? He rebukes Peter in turn with harsh words, 'Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do' (v. 33). Jesus realises that in Peter, as in the other disciples and in each of us, the temptation of the Evil One, who wants to turn us away from God’s will, opposes the grace of the Father. As he announces that he must suffer and be put to death in order to resurrect, Jesus wants to make it clear to those who follow him that he is a humble and servant Messiah. He is the obedient Servant to the Father’s will, until the complete sacrifice of his own life. For this reason, when he addresses the entire crowd, he states that anyone who wants to be his disciple must accept being a servant, as He became a servant, and says, 'For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it’ (v. 35)."
"Following Jesus means taking up one’s own cross to accompany him on his journey, an uncomfortable journey that is not that of success or earthly glory, but one that leads to true freedom, freedom from selfishness and sin. Such a decision entails a clear rejection of the worldly mind-set that places one’s ego and interests at the centre of existence. [Instead, it requires] losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to receive it renewed and authentic. We are confident, thanks to Jesus, that this road leads to the resurrection, the full and definitive life with God.”
“Choosing to follow Him, our Master and Lord, who became the Servant of all, requires a strong union with Him, as well as attentive and assiduous listening to his word, the grace of the Sacraments. May the Virgin Mary, who followed Jesus until Calvary, always help us purify our faith from false images of God, in order to adhere fully to Christ and his Gospel."
After the Marian prayer, Francis said that "today, in South Africa, a blessed would be proclaimed. Samuel Benedict Daswa, a family man, killed in 1990 because of his fidelity to the Gospel. In his life, Daswa always showed great consistency, courageously taking on Christian attitudes and refusing worldly and pagan habits. His testimony, the Pope added, helps especially families to spread the truth and charity of Christ.”