Pope Francis: The Way of the Cross Opens Door to New and Fuller Life

Full texts of papal discourses on Friday afternoon.

WYD pilgrims carry a large wooden cross during the Way of the Cross with young people at Jordan Park in Kraków's Błonia, July 29, 2016.
WYD pilgrims carry a large wooden cross during the Way of the Cross with young people at Jordan Park in Kraków's Błonia, July 29, 2016. (photo: © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk)

In Krakow this evening during a Via Crucis with young people, Pope Francis gave a catechesis on the Way of the Cross, stressing that it is not an exercise in sadomasochism. "The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life," he said.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Pope visited the "Children's University Hospital" in Prokocim, Kraków. 

Here below are the full texts of both his discourses:

***

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER

Jordan Park in Błonia, KrakówI was hungry and you gave me food, 

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 
I was naked and you gave me clothing, 
I was sick and you took care of me, 
I was in prison and you visited me (Mt 25:35-36).

These words of Jesus answer the question that arises so often in our minds and hearts:  “Where is God?”  Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees?  Where is God, when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism and war?  Where is God, when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection?   Or when children are exploited and demeaned, and they too suffer from grave illness?  Where is God, amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit?  These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer.  We can only look to Jesus and ask him.   And Jesus’ answer is this: “God is in them”.  Jesus is in them; he suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them.  He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, “one body”.

Jesus himself chose to identify with these our brothers and sisters enduring pain and anguish by agreeing to tread the “way of sorrows” that led to Calvary.  By dying on the cross, he surrendered himself into to the hands of the Father, taking upon himself and in himself, with self-sacrificing love, the physical, moral and spiritual wounds of all humanity.  By embracing the wood of the cross, Jesus embraced the nakedness, the hunger and thirst, the loneliness, pain and death of men and women of all times.  Tonight Jesus, and we with him, embrace with particular love our brothers and sisters from Syria who have fled from the war.  We greet them and we welcome them with fraternal affection and friendship.

By following Jesus along the Way of the Cross, we have once again realized the importance of imitating him through the fourteenworks of mercy.  These help us to be open to God’s mercy, to implore the grace to appreciate that without mercy we can do nothing; without mercy, neither I nor you nor any of us can do a thing.  Let us first consider the seven corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, and burying the dead.  Freely we have received, so freely let us give.  We are called to serve the crucified Jesus in all those who are marginalized, to touch his sacred flesh in those who are disadvantaged, in those who hunger and thirst, in the naked and imprisoned, the sick and unemployed, in those who are persecuted, refugees and migrants.  There we find our God; there we touch the Lord.  Jesus himself told us this when he explained the criterion on which we will be judged: whenever we do these things to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do them to him (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

After the corporal works of mercy come the spiritual works: counselling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, consoling the afflicted, pardoning offences, bearing wrongs patiently, praying for the living and the dead.  In welcoming the outcast who suffer physically and in welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake.  In welcoming the outcast who suffer physically and in welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake.  Not in ideas, but in our actions.

Humanity today needs men and women, and especially young people like yourselves, who do not wish to live their lives “halfway”, young people ready to spend their lives freely in service to those of their brothers and sisters who are poorest and most vulnerable, in imitation of Christ who gave himself completely for our salvation.  In the face of evil, suffering and sin, the only response possible for a disciple of Jesus is the gift of self, even of one’s own life, in imitation of Christ; it is the attitude of service.  Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose.  By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ.

This evening, dear friends, the Lord once more asks you to be in the forefront of serving others.  He wants to make of you a concrete response to the needs and sufferings of humanity.  He wants you to be signs of his merciful love for our time!  To enable you to carry out this mission, he shows you the way of personal commitment and self-sacrifice.  It is the Way of the Cross.  The Way of the Cross is the way of fidelity in following Jesus to the end, in the often dramatic situations of everyday life.  It is a way that fears no lack of success, ostracism or solitude, because it fills ours hearts with the fullness of Jesus.  The Way of the Cross is the way of God’s own life, his “style”, which Jesus brings even to the pathways of a society at times divided, unjust and corrupt.

The Way of the Cross is not an exercise in sadomasochism; the Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil and death, for it leads to the radiant light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of a new and fuller life.  It is the way of hope, the way of the future.  Those who take up this way with generosity and faith give hope to the future and to humanity.  Those who take up this way with generosity and faith sow seeds of hope.  I want you to be sowers of hope.

Dear young people, on that Good Friday many disciples went back crestfallen to their homes.  Others chose to go out to the country to forget the cross.  I ask you: but I want each of you to answer in silence in the depths of your heart.  How do you want to go back this evening to your own homes, to the places where you are staying, to your tents?  How do you want to go back this evening to be alone with your thoughts?  The world is watching us.  Each of you has to answer the challenge that this question sets before you.

***

VISIT TO THE CHILDREN'S UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL (UCH)

ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER

Prokocim, Kraków 
Friday, 29 July 2016

Dear brothers and sisters,

A special part of my visit to Krakow is this meeting with the little patients of this hospital.  I greet all of you and I thank the Prime Minister for his kind words.  I would like to draw near to all children who are sick, to stand at their bedside, and embrace them.  I would like to listen to everyone here, even if for only a moment, and to be still before questions that have no easy answers.  And to pray.

The Gospel often shows us the Lord Jesus meeting the sick, embracing them and seeking them out.  Jesus is always attentive to them.  He looks at them in the same way that a mother looks at her sick child, and he is moved by compassion for them.

How I would wish that we Christians could be as close to the sick as Jesus was, in silence, with a caress, with prayer.  Sadly, our society is tainted by the culture of waste, which is the opposite of the culture of acceptance.  And the victims of the culture of waste are those who are weakest and most frail; and this is indeed cruel.  How beautiful it is instead to see that in this hospital the smallest and most needy are welcomed and cared for.  Thank you for this sign of love that you offer us!  This is the sign of true civility, human and Christian: to make those who are most disadvantaged the centre of social and political concern.

Sometimes families feel alone in providing this care.  What can be done?  From this place, so full of concrete signs of love, I would like to say: Let us multiply the works of the culture of acceptance, works inspired by Christian love, love for Jesus crucified, for the flesh of Christ.  To serve with love and tenderness persons who need our help makes all of us grow in humanity.  It opens before us the way to eternal life.  Those who engage in works of mercy have no fear of death.

I encourage all those who have made the Gospel call to “visit the sick” a personal life decision: physicians, nurses, healthcare workers, chaplains and volunteers.  May the Lord help you to do your work well, here as in every other hospital in the world.  I cannot fail to mention, here, the work of so many sisters who offer their lives in hospitals.  May the Lord reward you by giving you inner peace and a heart always capable of tenderness.

Thank you for this encounter!  I carry you with me in affection and prayer.  And please, do not forget to pray for me.

Nicaraguan police place Bishop Rolando José Álvarez under house arrest Aug. 4 at the diocesan chancery in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua Needs More

EDITORIAL: Although the Vatican has offered a muted response, Pope Francis must do more to condemn human-rights abuses in Nicaragua before the Ortega regime exploits papal silence to justify its immoral actions.