Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pope Francis: Saturday morning Mass in Santa Marta for the grace you need in order not to flee the Cross: this was the message of Pope Francis to the faithful at Mass on Saturday morning in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel in the Vatican. His remarks following the daily readings focused on the Gospel passage of the day, in which Jesus announces His Passion to the disciples. 

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” Pope Francis said that these words of Jesus were chilling to the disciples, who expected a triumphal journey. They were words that, “remained for [the disciples] so mysterious that they did not grasp their meaning.” The Pope said, “[The disciples] were afraid to ask him about the matter.” For them, it was “better not to talk about it,” it was, “better not to understand, than to understand the truth,” that Jesus had proclaimed:

“They were afraid of the Cross – they were afraid of the Cross. Peter himself, after that solemn confession in the region of Caesarea Philippi, when Jesus again said the same thing, reproaches the Lord: ‘No, Lord! Never! Not this!” [said Peter]. He was afraid of the Cross. Not only the disciples, however, not only Peter: Jesus Himself was afraid of the Cross! He could not fool Himself, He knew. So great was Jesus’ own fear that, on that Thursday evening He did sweat blood. So great was Jesus’ fear that He almost said the same as Peter – almost: ‘Father, take this chalice from me. Thy will be done!’ This was the difference.”

The Cross causes fear even in the work of evangelization, though, Pope Francis observes, there is the “rule” according to which, “the disciple is not greater than the Master. There is the rule according to which there is no redemption without the effusion of blood,” there is no fruitful apostolic work without the Cross:

“Perhaps we think – each one of us can wonder: ‘And to me, what shall happen? How will my Cross be?’ We do not know. We do not know, but there will be one. We must pray for the grace not to fly from the Cross when it comes: with fear, eh! That is true. That scares us. Nevertheless, that is where following Jesus leads. The last words that Jesus spoke to Peter come to mind – in that Pontifical incoronation at Tiberias: ‘Do you love me? Peace! Do you love me? Peace!’…but the final words were these: ‘They shall take you where you do not want to go!’ The promise of the Cross.”

Pope Francis concluded with a prayer to the Virgin Mary:

“Nearest to Jesus, on the Cross, was His mother – His dear mother. Perhaps today, this day in which we pray to her, it would be good to ask her not for the grace to take away our fear – that must come, that fear of the Cross… but the grace we need not to fly from the Cross in fear. She was there and she knows how to be near the Cross.”