Pope: The Cross non-negotiable, it must be fully embraced, as Jesus did
Celebrating the Chrism Mass, Francis recalls that "the announcement of the Good News is mysteriously linked to persecution and the Cross". "It is true that the cross is present in our preaching of the Gospel, but it is the cross of our salvation. Thanks to the reconciling blood of Jesus, it is a cross that contains the power of Christ’s victory, which conquers evil and delivers us from the evil one.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "For on the cross there can be no ambiguity! The cross is non-negotiable”, it must be fully embraced, as Jesus did, even before he was born. And even today, for those who have chosen to follow Jesus, "the proclamation of the Gospel is always linked to the embrace of a concrete Cross".
The Chrism Mass is celebrated by every bishop s today with his priests in all the cathedrals of the world and that Pope Francis celebrated with some cardinals and bishops, with the superiors of the Secretariat of State and with the members of the presbyterial council of the diocese of Rome, "his" diocese. During this rite priests renew the promises made at the time of their ordination and the oil of the sick, the oil of the catechumens and the chrism are blessed.
Francis commented on the Gospel passage that tells of Jesus preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth, from which he is thrown out and risks being killed. It is that, the Pope explains, “esus’ words have the power to bring to light whatever each of us holds in the depths of our heart, often mixed like the wheat and the tares. And this gives rise to spiritual conflict. Seeing the signs of the Lord’s superabundant mercy and hearing the “beatitudes” but also the “woes” found in the Gospel, we find ourselves forced to discern and decide.” “The gentle light of God’s word shines brightly in well-disposed hearts, but awakens confusion and rejection in those that are not. We see this over and over again in the Gospels. The good seed sown in the field bears fruit – a hundred, sixty and thirty-fold – but it also arouses the envy of the enemy, who is driven to sow weeds during the night (cf. Mt 13:24-30.36-43)."
First of all because "the announcement of the Good News is mysteriously linked to persecution and the Cross". In Jesus, Francis points out, the cross is present throughout life and even before birth. "It is already there in Mary’s initial bewilderment at the message of the angel; it is there in Joseph's sleeplessness, when he felt obliged to send Mary away quietly. It is there in the persecution of Herod and in the hardships endured by the Holy Family, like those of so many other families obliged to live in exile from their homeland. All this makes us realize that the mystery of the cross is present “from the beginning”. It makes us understand that the cross is not an afterthought, something that happened by chance in the Lord’s life. It is true that all who crucify others throughout history would have the cross appear as collateral damage, but that is not the case: the cross does not appear by chance. The great and small crosses of humanity, the crosses of each of us, do not appear by chance. Why did the Lord embrace the cross fully and to the end? Why did Jesus embrace his entire Passion: his betrayal and abandonment by his friends after the Last Supper, his illegal arrest, his summary trial and disproportionate sentence, the gratuitous and unjustifiable violence with which he was beaten and spat upon...? If mere circumstances conditioned the saving power of the cross, the Lord would not have embraced everything. But when his hour came, he embraced the cross fully.”
The second consideration of Francis is that "true, there is an aspect of the cross that is an integral part of our human condition, our limits and our frailty. Yet it is also true that something happens on the Cross that does not have to do with our human weakness but is the bite of the serpent, who, seeing the crucified Lord defenceless, bites him in an attempt to poison and undo all his work. A bite that tries to scandalize – and this is an era of scandals – a bite that seeks to disable and render futile and meaningless all service and loving sacrifice for others. It is the venom of the evil one who keeps insisting: save yourself. It is in this harsh and painful “bite” that seeks to bring death, that God’s triumph is ultimately seen.”.
“These are my reflections. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to profit from this teaching. It is true that the cross is present in our preaching of the Gospel, but it is the cross of our salvation. Thanks to the reconciling blood of Jesus, it is a cross that contains the power of Christ’s victory, which conquers evil and delivers us from the evil one. To embrace it with Jesus and, as he did before us, to go out and preach it, will allow us to discern and reject the venom of scandal, with which the devil wants to poison us whenever a cross unexpectedly appears in our lives.“But we are not among those who shrink back (hypostoles)” (Heb 10:39), says the author of the Letter to the Hebrews. “We are not among those who shrink back”. This is the advice that the author gives us. We are not scandalized, because Jesus himself was not scandalized by seeing that his joyful preaching of salvation to the poor was not received wholeheartedly, but amid the shouts and threats of those who refused to hear his word or wanted to reduce it to legalisms such as moralism or clericalism. We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalized by having to heal the sick and to set prisoners free amid the moralistic, legalistic and clerical squabbles that arose every time he did some good.We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalized by having to give sight to the blind amid people who closed their eyes in order not to see, or looked the other way.We are not scandalized because Jesus was not scandalised that his proclamation of a year of grace of the Lord – a year that embraces all of history - provoked a public scandal in matters that today would barely make the third page of a local newspaper.We are not scandalized because the preaching of the Gospel is effective not because of our eloquent words but because of the power of the cross (cf. 1 Cor 1:17).The way we embrace the cross in our preaching of the Gospel – with deeds and, when necessary, with words – makes two things clear. That the sufferings that come from the Gospel are not ours, but rather “the sufferings of Christ in us” (2 Cor 1:5), and that “we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants of all for the love of Jesus” (2 Cor 4:5)."