Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Today’s Gospel presents us Jesus who, on his way towards Caesarea Philippi, asks the disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mk. 8,27). They respond that some believe he is John the Baptist reborn, others Elijah or one of the great Prophets. The people appreciated Jesus, they considered him a “God-sent”, but still could not recognize him as the foretold and long-awaited Messiah. “But who do you say that I am?” (v. 29). This is the most important question, with which Jesus speaks directly to those who have followed him, to verify their faith. Peter, in the name of all, exclaims with candidness: “You are the Christ” (v. 29). Jesus remains struck by Peter’s faith, He recognizes that it is the fruit of a special grace of God the Father. And now He openly reveals to the disciples that which awaits Him in Jerusalem, that is that “the Son of Man must suffer greatly…be killed, and rise after three days” (v. 31).
The same Peter, who just professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah, is scandalized by these words. He took the Master aside and reproaches him. And how does Jesus react? He in turn reproaches Peter, with very severe words: “Get behind me, Satan!” He calls him Satan! “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (v. 33). Jesus sees that in Peter, as in the other disciples – and in each one of us! – the temptation by the Evil One opposes the grace of the Father, that it wants to deter us from the will of God. Announcing that He must suffer and be put to death to then rise, Jesus wants those who follow Him to understand that He is a humble and a servant Messiah. He is the obedient Servant to the will of the Father, until the complete sacrifice of His own life. For this, turning towards the whole crowd there, He declares that he who wishes to become his disciple must accept being a servant, as He has made himself a servant, and warns: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (v. 35).
To undertake the discipleship of Jesus means to take up your cross – we all have it – to accompany Him on His path, an uncomfortable path that is not of success or of passing glory, but that which takes us to the true freedom, freedom from selfishness and from sin. It is to operate a clear rejection of that worldly mentality that places one’s “I” and own interests at the center of existence. That is not what Jesus wants from us. Instead Jesus invites us to lose our life for Him and the Gospel, to receive it renewed, realized and authentic. We are sure, thanks to Jesus, that this path brings us to the Resurrection, to the full and definitive life with God. To decide to follow Him, our Master and Lord who made Himself the Servant of all, requires a strong union with Him, the attentive and assiduous listening of His Word – remember to read everyday a passage from the Gospel – and the grace of the Sacraments. There are young people here in the square, young men and women. I only want to ask you: have you felt the desire to follow Jesus more closely? Think about it, pray and allow the Lord to speak to you.
May the Virgin Mary, who has followed Jesus to Calvary, help us to always purify our faith from false images of God, to adhere fully to Christ and his Gospel.
After reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope said the following:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today in South Africa is proclaimed Blessed Samuel Benedict Daswa, a father of a family, killed in 1990 – almost 25 years ago – and was killed for his fidelity to the Gospel. In his life, he always showed consistency, courageously taking on Christian attitudes and refusing worldly and pagan customs. May his witness especially help families to spread the truth and charity of Christ, and may his witness, united with the witness of so many of our brothers and sisters – youth, elderly, boys and girls, children – all persecuted, kicked out, and killed for announcing Jesus Christ. To all these martyrs, to Samuel Benedict Daswa and to all of them, let us thank them for their witness and we ask that they intercede for us. I affectionately greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from different countries: families, parish groups and associations.
I greet the faithful of the diocese of Freyburg, the “Zacchaeus’ Tree” association of Aosta, the faithful of Corte Franca and Orzinuovi, the Catholic Actions youth of Alpago and the group of motorcyclists of Ravenna.
I greet the temporary teachers who have come from Sardegna, and I hope that the problems in the world of labor may be addressed by taking concretely into account the family and their needs.
To all I wish a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me.
Have a good lunch and goodbye!
[Translation by Junno Arocho Esteves]