VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis spoke to the throng gathered in St. Peter’s Square for Sunday’s Angelus, encouraging them to follow Christ on the way of the cross.
“Following Jesus does not mean participating in a triumphal procession!” he said Sept. 8. “It means sharing his merciful love, entering into his great work of mercy for each person and for all mankind. And this forgiveness passes through the cross.”
The Pope reflected on the Gospel, in which Jesus “insists on the conditions to be his disciple: to not place anything before love of him, to take up one’s own cross, and to follow him.”
Although there are many who want to follow Jesus, especially when there are miracles, “Jesus does not want to deceive anyone,” explained Pope Francis.
Jesus “knows well what awaits him in Jerusalem, what the way is that the Father asks him to walk,” the Pope continued. “It is the way of the cross, of sacrifice of himself for the forgiveness of our sins.”
Yet “Jesus does not want to complete this work alone,” he added.
Christ “wants to include us also in the mission that the Father has given him.”
After the Resurrection, Jesus gives his mission to the disciples, who “renounce all the goods” of their lives because they have found in Christ “the greatest good, in which every other good receives its full value and significance.”
In “the logic of the Gospel, the logic of love and service,” the Christian both “detaches himself from everything and recovers everything,” said Pope Francis.
Like the disciples, Christians who give up family, relationships, work and cultural and economic goods, all for the sake of Christ, rediscover them anew in Jesus.
The Angelus followed Saturday evening’s massive prayer vigil for peace throughout the world, especially in war-torn Syria and the Middle East. An estimated 100,000 people prayed with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, and thousands of similar events took place around the world.
Pope Francis thanked those who had participated in the vigil.
He emphasized the need to pray for Lebanon, “that it may find its hoped-for stability,” and for Iraq, “so that the sectarian violence may lead to reconciliation.”
The Pope also asked for prayers for “the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians” and for Egypt, “so that all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, may commit themselves to build up together a society dedicated to the good of the whole population.”
He reiterated his strong opposition to war, noting that there is a much more profound personal war that each person must fight.
This personal war entails “a strong and courageous decision to renounce evil and its seductions and to choose the good, ready to pay the price” for such a choice.
Such sacrifice is a true “taking up of the cross.”
“And what good is it to wage war, so much war, if you don’t have the capacity to wage this (more) profound war against evil?” the Pope lamented.
“The search for peace is long and demands patience and perseverance!” He exclaimed. “Let us keep praying for this!”