Be human already!
Christ became man for you, died for you, feel this, know this. This is Pope Francis’s full message of peace to the world.
Pope Benedict knew he couldn’t plead like whoever the Holy Spirit had in mind to be our Holy Father in this hour.
And, goodness, can Pope Francis plead.
He went out to St. Peter’s Square famously in prayer, and then begging us to ask God for His mercy. This message of Divine Mercy was his first Angelus reflection. Never tired of asking. He never tires of forgiving. In this is our healing by the Divine Physician.
And as we surrender to Him, if we even begin to live in union with Him, drawn into the very life of the Trinity, we will weep. We will weep for the indifference, we will weep for the sacrilege, we will weep for our brothers and sisters who seem unreachable by mere human love and service. We will weep and it will purify us. We will know that in the cross is our life, the Way to be who we are meant to be.
In celebrating the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, Pope Francis says: In the Cross, there is “the story of God …. “:
“He has chosen to take up our story and to journey with us,” becoming man, assuming the condition of a slave and making Himself obedient even to death on a Cross: “God takes this course for love! There’s no other explanation: love alone does this. Today we look upon the Cross, the story of mankind and the story of God. We look upon this Cross, where you can try that honey of aloe, that bitter honey, that bitter sweetness of the sacrifice of Jesus. But this mystery is so great, and we cannot by ourselves look well upon this mystery, not so much to understand – yes, to understand – but to feel deeply the salvation of this mystery. First of all the mystery of the Cross. It can only be understood, a little bit, by kneeling, in prayer, but also through tears: they are the tears that bring us close to this mystery.”
(More from the Vatican radio translation here.)
I love that so many find Pope Francis “awesome,” as one MSNBC host put it a few nights ago. But are we listening? In Lampedusa. In Rio. He’s calling us to radical conversion as he holds open the door. As he welcomes, he also challenges us. If we say we are Christian, be Christian already! Follow Christ and embrace his Cross! Long for the cross.
This is from Pope Francis on Copacabana beach, his meditation during the Way of the Cross service:
the Cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action; the Cross invites us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them. How many times have we seen them in the Way of the Cross, how many times have they accompanied Jesus on the way to Calvary: Pilate, Simon of Cyrene, Mary, the women… Today I ask you: which of them do you want to be? Do you want to be like Pilate, who did not have the courage to go against the tide to save Jesus’ life, and instead washed his hands? Tell me: are you one of those who wash their hands, who feign ignorance and look the other way? Or are you like Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry that heavy wood, or like Mary and the other women, who were not afraid to accompany Jesus all the way to the end, with love and tenderness? And you, who do you want to be? Like Pilate? Like Simon? Like Mary? Jesus is looking at you now and is asking you: do you want to help me carry the Cross? Brothers and sisters, with all the strength of your youth, how will you respond to him?
Have we wept today? Have we gazed at the Cross? Have we lived in full knowledge of his Presence? We can choose this moment to do so. There’s no better offer.