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November 20, 2017
Pope Francis: To follow Christ means also to accept the cross
Pope Francis venerates the cross on Good Friday, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.
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.- On Sunday Pope Francis spoke about the sacrifice of the cross, explaining how as followers of Christ we must embrace suffering, because it is through the suffering and death of Christ that his love is made known to us.

“Always, even today, the temptation is to follow a Christ without a cross, rather, to teach God the right path,” the Pope said Sept. 3. Like Peter we maybe say: “No, this will never happen.”

“But Jesus reminds us that his way is the way of love,” Francis said, and there is no true love without Christ’s self-sacrifice. We must embrace suffering, because as Christ told his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Before leading the Angelus Pope Francis reflected on our call as Christians not to be absorbed by the world’s vision to live an easy life, but rather to go “against the current,” pointing out the challenge to self-centeredness found in Christ's words, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my cause will find it.”

“In this paradox is contained the golden rule that God has inscribed into the human nature created in Christ: the rule that only love gives meaning and happiness to life,” Pope Francis said.

Spending our time, talents and our energy only to save and take care of ourselves actually leads to loss, to a “sad and sterile existence,” he explained. Whereas, if we live our lives for the Lord, set on fire with love, then our lives will be fruitful and we will have genuine joy.

The Pope pointed out that we rediscover the mystery of Christ’s cross every time we participate in the Eucharist. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, "in which the Son of God completely loses himself to receive himself again from the Father," is made present.

In the Eucharist, we, the lost, are found by Christ. The love of Christ crucified and risen is given to us as food and drink, he said.

“Mary Most Holy, who followed Jesus to Calvary, also accompany us and help us not to fear the cross,” he concluded. “Not a cross without Jesus, the cross with Jesus, that is, the cross of suffering for love of God and brethren.”

After the Angelus, the Pope prayed for all those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the Gulf Coast of the United States last week, particularly Texas and Louisiana, asking for the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I also want to express my deepest interest in the suffering of the people of Texas and Louisiana suffering from a hurricane and exceptional rain that have caused casualties, thousands of displaced persons and massive material damage,” he said.

He also renewed his spiritual closeness to the people of South Asia, who have also been affected by severe flooding, asking, “Mary the Most Holy, comfort of the afflicted, to obtain from the Lord the grace of comfort for these our severely tested brothers."