"Spiritual closeness to the people of South Asia "and "active participation in the suffering of Texas residents affected by a hurricane." "Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love, and there is no true love without self-sacrifice." Mary "help us not to be afraid to suffer for the love of God and of our brothers and sisters."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Today, there is always the temptation to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path," said Pope Francis commenting on the gospel passage of today's Mass (22nd Sunday to Matthew, 16: 21-27) in his explanation to pilgrims attending the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.
In the passage, Jesus "reveals to the disciples that he will suffer, be killed and rise again in Jerusalem" and he is reproached by Peter because he cannot accept that all this will happen to the Messiah. Jesus responds with a reproach in turn: "Get behind me, Satan! You are scandalized, because you do not think according to God, but according to men! "(V. 23).
"At that point," the Pope continued, "the Master addresses all those who followed him, clearly presenting the way to go:" If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his Cross, and follow me "(V. 24). Again, even today, the temptation is to follow a Christ without a Cross, rather, to teach God the right path. But Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love, and there is no true love without self-sacrifice. We are called not to be absorbed by the vision of this world, but to be increasingly aware of the necessity and effort of Christians to walk counter-current and uphill.
Jesus completes his proposal with words that express a great wisdom that is always valid, because they challenge self-centered mentalities and behaviors. He exhorts: "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my cause will find it "(v. 25). In this paradox there is the golden rule that God has inscribed into human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life. To spend our talents, energies and time just to safeguard, protect and realize ourselves, actually leads to loss, that is to a sad and sterile existence. If, instead, we live for the Lord and set our lives on love, as Jesus did, we will be able to enjoy genuine joy. "
"In the celebration of the Eucharist," he concludes, "we rediscover the mystery of the Cross; not only do we remember, but we make the memorial of the redeeming Sacrifice, in which the Son of God completely loses himself to receive himself again from the Father and thus find us, who were lost, together with all the creatures. Every time we attend Holy Mass, the love of Christ Crucified and Risen is communicated to us as food and drink, so that we can follow Him on the path of every day, in the concrete ministry of the brothers.
Mary Most Holy, who has followed Jesus to Calvary, also accompany us and help us not to be afraid of the Cross, but to be with the nailed Christ; not to be afraid to suffer for the love of God and of the brethren, for this suffering through the grace of Christ is fruitful of resurrection. "
After the Marian prayer, the Pontiff expressed his "spiritual closeness to the people of South Asia, who still suffer the consequences of floods." In all South Asia, due to the particularly strong monsoon rains, flooding has affected at least 41 million people between India, Bangladesh and Nepal; the death toll has exceeded 1,000 deaths.
At the same time, he wanted to express his "active participation in the suffering of Texas residents affected by a hurricane and exceptional rains that has caused thousands of displaced people and massive material damage."
While welcoming all the groups present, the pontiff added, "I want to thank you for wishing me a good trip," in reference to his upcoming trip to Colombia from 6 to 11 September.