How can you follow Christ this Lent? Pick up your daily cross…
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, drawing from today’s readings, and reflecting that a Christian’s compass is to follow the crucified Christ.
At the beginning of Lent, we are invited to repent, stressed the Pope. Francis began recalling that today’s liturgy places this exhortation in the context of three realities: man, God, and the journey.
The reality of man, Francis stressed, is that of choosing between good and evil.
“God has made us free, the choice is ours,” the Pope said, “but He does not leave it to us alone; rather, he points out the path of goodness with the Commandments.”
Then there is the reality of God, the Pope noted.
“There is no God, without Christ,” the Pope stressed, noting, “A God without Christ, ‘disincarnate,’ is a god that is not real.”
“The reality of God is God made Christ, for us. To save us. And when we distance ourselves from this, from this reality, and we distance ourselves from the Cross of Christ, from the truth of the wounds of the Lord, we distance ourselves also from love, from the charity [carità] of God, from salvation and going along an ideological street from God, far away.”
“This is not God who came to us and made Himself close to us to save us, and died for us. This [God made Christ for us, to save us] is the reality of God.”
The Holy Father went on to cite a dialogue between an agnostic and a believer, recorded by a French writer of the last century.
“The agnostic of good will asked the believer, ‘But how can I… for me, the problem is how Christ is God: I can’t understand this. How is Christ God?’ And the believer responded, ‘Eh, for me this is not a problem. The problem would be if God would not have been made Christ.’
This, Francis stressed, is the reality of God, namely “God made Christ, God made flesh.” This, he added, is the foundation of the works of mercy.
“The wounds of our brothers are the wounds of Christ, they are the wounds of God, because God is made Christ. The second reality. We cannot live Lent without this reality. We must convert, not to an abstract God, but to the concrete God who is made Christ.”
Reality of the Journey
Turning to the third reality, that of the journey, Francis recalled Jesus’ words: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
“Not doing what I want, but what Jesus wants; following Jesus. And He says that on this path, we lose our life, in order to gain it back later.”
This, Francis noted, requires a continual loss of life,” loss of doing what I want, loss of comforts, being always on the path of Jesus who was at the service of others, [who was] was in adoration of God.”
“This,” Francis said, “is the right path.”