Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - For those who follow Jesus , the Cross and persecution are "always part of the Christian journey". "There are now more martyrs today than in the early days of the Church". This was Pope Francis' reminder today at Mass celebrated at Casa Santa Marta dedicated to persecution, of which Jesus speaks in the Beatitudes.
The Pope, Vatican Radio reports, was inspired by the Gospel passage of when Jesus had just finished talking about the danger of riches, and Peter asks him what the disciples who left everything to follow him will receive. In truth, says the Lord , "I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands ... who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age". Perhaps, said the Pope , Peter thinks that "following Jesus " is "good business", because it makes us earn a hundred times more. But he adds that in addition to this gain there will be persecution. "It is as if he were saying: 'Yes, you have left everything, and you'll receive here, on earth, much more: but also persecution!'. Like a salad that is always with the oil of persecution! This is what the Christian receives and this is the path of those who follow Jesus, because it was the path he took: He was persecuted! It is the path of humbling oneself. What Paul said to the Philippians: 'he lowered himself. He became man and lowered himself to death, death on the Cross'. This is the tone of Christian life".
So even in the Beatitudes, where Jesus says: "Blessed are you when people insult you, when you are persecuted for my name's sake", "persecution is one of the Beatitudes". The disciples "immediately after the coming of the Holy Spirit, began to preach and the persecution began, Peter went to jail", Stephen was killed and after them "many disciples until the present day". "The Cross is always on the Christian path!" "We will have many brothers, many sisters, many mothers, many fathers in the Church, the Christian community", but "we also have persecution". "Because This is because the world does not tolerate the divinity of Christ. It doesn't tolerate the announcement of the Gospel. It does not tolerate the Beatitudes. And so we have persecutions: with words, with insults, the things that they said about Christians in the early centuries, the condemnations, imprisonment.... But we easily forget. We think of the many Christians, 60 years ago, in the labour camps, in the camps of the Nazis, of the communists: So many of them! For being Christians! And even today.... But (people say) 'today we are better educated and these things no longer exist'. Yes they do! And I tell you that today there are more martyrs than during the early times of the Church". Many brothers and sisters "who witness to Jesus, and who because of their witness to Jesus are persecuted."
Christians who cannot even carry the Bible. "They are condemned because they have a Bible. They can not make the sign of the cross. And this is the path of Jesus, but it is a path full of joy because the Lord never tests us with more than what we can bear. The Christian life is not one of commercial advantage, it is not a career path, it is simply following Jesus! However, this happens when we follow Jesus. Let us think if we have within us the desire to be courageous in our witness of Jesus. Let us also think - it will do us good - of our many brothers and sisters today - today! - who can not pray together because they are persecuted, they may not have the book of the Gospel or the Bible, because they are persecuted. "Let us think of those brothers who "can not go to Mass, because it is forbidden". How often "does a priest come in secret, among them, they pretend they are having a meal, taking tea and there they celebrate Mass", "so they will not see them". "This is happening today". Let us think, he said, if we are willing "to carry the Cross like Jesus? To endure persecution to bear witness to Jesus" like "these brothers and sisters who are persecuted and humiliated today", "thinking about this will do us all good".