On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a time to really contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us on the Cross, which is more than just a devotional symbol, but an exhortation to imitate the love of Christ.
“The Christian Cross is not a furnishing for the house or an ornament
to wear, but a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to
save humanity from evil and from sin,” the Pope said March 12.
As Lent moves forward, he encouraged Christians to “contemplate with
devotion” the image of the Jesus crucified on the Cross, which is “the
symbol of our Christian faith, it’s the emblem of Jesus, died and risen
“Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten
journey in order to increasingly understand the severity of sin and the
value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us,” he said.
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during
his Sunday Angelus address, which he focused on today’s Gospel passage
from Matthew recounting the scene of the Transfiguration.
Speaking from the window of the papal apartments in the Vatican’s
Apostolic Palace, Francis noted how in the passage, Matthew points out
that Jesus’ face “shown like the sun and his garments became white as
The “brightness” that characterizes the Transfiguration, he said,
symbolizes the event’s ultimate aim, which is “to illuminate the minds
and hearts of the disciples so that they are able to clearly understand
who their master is.”
“It’s a flash of light that opens unexpectedly opens the mystery of
Jesus and illuminates his entire person and his story,” he said.
Since they are already drawing near to Jerusalem, where Jesus will
undergo his violent Passion and death, the Lord wants to prepare them
for “this scandal that’s too strong for their faith and, at the same
time, announce his resurrection, manifesting himself as the Messiah,”
the Pope said.
By revealing himself in the way that he did to Peter, James and John,
Jesus shows that he is a Messiah different than what was commonly
expected at the time: he’s not “a powerful and glorious king, but a
humble and disarmed servant; not a gentleman with great wealth, a sign
of blessing, but a poor man who has not place to rest his head; not a
patriarch with numerous descendants, but a homeless bachelor without a
“It’s truly a revelation of God upside down,” Pope Francis said,
explaining that “the most disconcerting sign of this scandalous reversal
is the Cross.”
However, it’s precisely through the Cross that Jesus will achieve
“the glorious resurrection,” he said, noting that by transfiguring
himself, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory not to help them
avoid the Cross, but to “indicate where the Cross leads.”
“Whoever dies with Christ, will rise with Christ. Whoever fights
together with him, will triumph with him,” the Pope said. “This is the
message of hope that the Cross of Jesus contains.”
Mary, he said, was someone who knew how to contemplate this glory of
Jesus that was masked by his humanity. He prayed that she would help
Christians “to be with him in silent prayer, to allow ourselves to be
illuminated by his presence, to carry in our heart, through the darkest
of nights, a reflection of his glory.”
After leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, Francis offered special prayers for the victims of a March 8 fire at a safe house for girls in Guatemala.
“Brothers and sisters, I express my closeness to the people of
Guatemala who live in mourning due to the grave and sad news of the fire
that erupted inside the Virgin of the Assumption Safe House, causing
victims and wounded among the girls who lived there,” he said.
The fire occurred March 8 after a group of girls and teenagers rioted
to protest what they alleged was physical and sexual abuse at the
facilities. Authorities said that some of the children set fire to
mattresses and the fire then spread to the rest of the facility.
The center, located in the San Antonio area of the town of San José
Pinula, was created to provide protection for about 400 girls and
teenagers abandoned and at risk. However, it currently houses close to
750 children, including those in trouble with the law.
According to State officials, the girls who died in the fire were
unable to get out because they were locked in a room, apparently as a
punishment. The previous night, some 60 children escaped from the center
In his address, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would “welcome
their souls, heal the wounded, console their grieving families and the
He also invited faithful to pray with him “for all boys and girls who
are victims of violence, mistreatment, exploitation and wars.”
“This is a plague,” he said. “This is a hidden cry that must be heard
by all of us and which we can’t continue to pretend not to see or to