Embracing the cross “with Jesus and like Him, allows us to discern and repel the poison of the scandal with which the devil will seek to poison us when a cross arrives unexpectedly in our lives”, Francis said to the priests during the Confirmation Mass, this Thursday Holy Fair.
Pope Francis presided over the Confirmation Mass, with the priests of Rome, in St. Peter’s Basilica, on the morning of this Holy Thursday (04/01).
“In the Gospel, we see a change in feelings in the people who listened to the Lord. It is a dramatic change that shows us how linked persecution and the cross are to the proclamation of the Gospel. A phrase that someone murmured in a low voice has gone insidiously« viral »:« Isn’t this Joseph’s son? »”, Said the Pontiff in his homily.
According to the Pope, “it is one of those ambiguous phrases that are said to be said. A person can use it to express joy:” How wonderful to see someone of such humble origins speak to this authority! ” But another can use it with disdain: “And this, where did it come from? What do you think it is?” If we notice well, the case is repeated when the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, begin to preach the Gospel. Someone said: “Those who are speaking, are they not all Galileans?” And while some accepted the Word, others considered them drunk. Formally, it seemed that a choice was left open, but if we consider the fruits, in that concrete context these words contained a germ of violence that was unleashed against Jesus“.
As he always does, the Lord does not dialogue with the evil spirit; responds only with Sacred Scripture. Not even the prophets Elijah and Elisha were accepted by their countrymen, but they were accepted by a Phoenician widow and a Syrian leper: two foreigners, two people from another religion. The facts are overwhelming and cause the effect that the charismatic elderly man, Simeon, had prophesied: Jesus would be a “sign of contradiction”.
The soft light of the Word generates clarity in good-natured hearts
“The word of Jesus has the power to bring to light what a person keeps in his heart, and it is usually a mixture of things like chaff and wheat. And this provokes a spiritual struggle”, underlined Francisco.
“The speed with which the fury and brutality of incarnation was unleashed, capable of killing the Lord at that very moment, shows us that it is always the hour,” said the Pope to the priests, stressing that “the hour of joyful announcement and the hour of persecution and the cross “. “The proclamation of the Gospel is always linked to the embrace of a concrete cross. The soft light of the Word generates clarity in the well-disposed hearts, and confusion and rejection in those who are not. We see this constantly in the Gospel”, stressed the Pope.
The cross does not depend on the circumstances
“Now, in order to” make some profit “for our priestly life, what reflection can we make when contemplating this early presence of the cross (of incomprehension, rejection, persecution) at the beginning and in the middle of the evangelical preaching? the mind two reflections“, said Francisco.
“The first: we should not be surprised at the fact that the cross was present in the life of the Lord at the beginning of his ministry, since it was already before his birth: it is already present in Mary’s first turmoil when she heard the Angel’s announcement; he is present in José’s insomnia, feeling obliged to abandon his promised wife; it is present in the persecution of Herod and in the hardships suffered by the Holy Family, like those of so many families who have to go into exile from their homeland. “
This reality opens us to the mystery of the cross experienced before. It makes us understand that the cross is not an inductive, occasional fact produced by a situation in the Lord’s life. It is true that all crucifiers in history make the cross appear as collateral damage, but it is not so: the cross does not depend on the circumstances.
Triumph of God
“Why did the Lord embrace the cross in all its integrity? Why did Jesus embrace the whole passion: he embraced the betrayal and abandonment of his friends since the Last Supper, accepted the illegal imprisonment, the summary judgment, the disproportionate sentence, the unreasonable wickedness of slapping and spitting? “asked the Pope.” If circumstances had determined the saving power of the cross, the Lord would not have embraced everything. But when his time came, he embraced the entire cross. Because the cross does not tolerate ambiguity; with the cross, you can’t bargain! “, he said.
The second reflection of the Pope says the following: “It is true that there is something on the cross that is an integral part of our human condition, with its limits and weaknesses. But it is also true that, of what happens on the cross, there is something that is not inherent in our fragility, but it is the serpent’s bite that, seeing the Crucified helpless, bites Him and tries to poison and discredit all his work. all the service and sacrifice of love for others. It is the poison of the evil one who continues to insist: save yourself. In this cruel and painful bite, which pretends to be mortal, the triumph of God finally appears. “
Christ overcomes evil and sets us free from the evil one
“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take advantage of these teachings: it is true that, in the proclamation of the Gospel, there is a cross; but it is a cross that saves. Pacified with the Blood of Jesus, it is a cross with the strength of the victory of Christ that conquers evil and frees us from the evil one. Embracing it with Jesus and like Him, allows us to discern and repel the poison of the scandal with which the devil will seek to poison us when a cross unexpectedly arrives in our life “, stressed the Pontiff.
“We, however, are not those who give in, it is the advice he gives us: We are not scandalized, because Jesus was not scandalized when he saw that his joyful announcement of salvation to the poor did not resonate pure, but in the midst of screams and threats of those who did not want to hear his Word or wanted to reduce them to legalisms, moralisms, clericalisms and those things “, said the Holy Father.
The grace of the Lord according to his divine way
The Pope concluded his homily, sharing a memory of a very dark moment in his life. I asked the Lord for the grace to free me from that hard and difficult situation. Once, I went to preach the Retreat to some nuns, who, on the last day – as was the custom then -, confessed. A very old sister came, with clear, even luminous eyes. She was a woman of God. In the end, I felt like asking her to pray for me, saying: “Sister, as a penance pray for me, because I need grace. Ask the Lord. If the Sister asks for it, the Lord will surely give it to me ». She stopped for a while, as if she were praying, looked at me and then said to me: “Surely the Lord will grant you grace, but make no mistake: he will give it according to his divine way”. This did me good: to hear that the Lord always gives us what we ask of him, but he does it in his divine way. This way involves the cross. Not out of masochism, but out of love, out of love until the end “.
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