Pope Francis said today in his homily for daily Mass in the chapel of the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican this morning that no one who claims to be a Christian can truly have an understanding of Jesus Christ or a relationship with him unless they are willing to bear the Cross of Christ in their life. The Holy Father said that living the life of a Christian was like having to carry the Cross as Simon of Cyrene did, lifting the crossbeam for Christ as he made his way toward Golgotha. Without carrying this Cross, a person may be going along a path that seems good, but is “not true.” Jesus, the Pope explained, was not the political savior that the Jewish nation had been expecting, but hid his identity, as revealed in today’s Gospel (Luke 9:18-22), in part to try and teach his disciples that his mission was to suffer for them and for the redemption of all humanity.
“‘The Son of Man, that is, the Messiah, the Anointed must suffer greatly, must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.’ This is the path of your liberation. This is the path of the Messiah, of the Just One: the Passion, the Cross,” Francis explained, “and He explains His identity to them. They don’t want to understand; and in the passage from Matthew, one sees how Peter refuses this: ‘No! No, Lord…’ But He begins to open up the mystery of His true identity: ‘Yes, I am the Son of God. But this is my path: I must go along this path of suffering.’” In explaining to the Twelve that he must suffer and die, Jesus is looking “to prepare the hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people, to understand this mystery of God,” taught the Pope.
“Sin is so ugly, but God’s love is so great that He saves us in this way: with this identity in the Cross. You can’t understand Jesus Christ the Redeemer without the Cross: you can’t understand! We can come to believe that he is a great prophet, he does good things, he’s a saint. But without the Cross you can’t understand Christ the Redeemer,” the Pontiff proclaimed, according to Vatican Radio. “The hearts of the disciples, the hearts of the people were not prepared to understand it. They didn’t understand the Prophecies, they didn’t understand that He Himself was the Lamb for the sacrifice. They were not prepared.”
The Holy Father then went on to explain that Jesus helps us to prepare for the Christian life by showing us how to bear the Cross. “He prepares us to be ‘Cyrenes’ to help Him bear the Cross. And our Christian life without this is not Christian,” the Pontiff explained. “It is a spiritual life, good… ‘Jesus is the great prophet, and He has saved us. But He and I, no… No, you with Him! Taking the same path. Still our identity as Christians must be guarded, not believing that being Christian is a merit; it is a spiritual path of perfection. It is not a merit, it is pure grace,” Francis concluded.