“When we journey without the cross … and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord”
VATICAN CITY, March 14, 2013 (Zenit.org) – Here is a translation of the homily Francis gave this morning at Mass with the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He spoke in Italian without a text.
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There is something that I see that these three readings have in common: movement. In the first reading it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading it is the movement in building the Church; in the third, the Gospel, it is the movement of confession. Journeying, building, confessing.
Journeying. “House of Jacob, come, let us walk together in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). This is the first thing that God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and you will be blameless. Journey: our life is a journey and when we stop it does not go on. Journey always in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.
Building. Building the Church. Stones are spoken of: the stones have a consistency, but they are the living stones, stones anointed by the Spirit. Building the Church, the Bride of Christ, upon that cornerstone that is the Lord himself. Building is another form of movement in our life.
Third, confessing. We can journey as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, the thing does not work. We will become a welfare NGO but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When we do not journey, we stop. When we do not build upon the stones, what happens? Everything collapses, loses its consistency, like the sandcastles that children build on the beach. When we do not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the words of Léon Bloy: “Whoever does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.” When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon.
Journeying, building-constructing, confessing. But it is not that easy, because in journeying, in constructing, in confessing, there are problems, there are movements antithetical to the journey: they are movements that take us backward.
This Gospel continues with an important moment. The same Peter who had confessed Jesus Christ said to him: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let’s not talk about the cross. This is not a part of it. I will follow you in other directions, but not to the cross. When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess a Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord: we are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like for us all, after these days of grace, to have courage, precisely the courage, to walk in the Lord’s presence, with the cross of the Lord; to build the Church upon the blood of the Lord, which was poured out on the cross; and to confess the only glory there is: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will go forward.
It is my wish for all of us that the Holy Spirit – through the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother – bestow upon us the grace of journeying, building, confessing Jesus Christ crucified. Amen.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]