The center of the mystery of Jesus Christ is that he “loved me” and “gave himself” up to death, for me.
Those were the Pope’s words at Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, which he said was a meditation on the Passion of the Lord, the Via Crucis. It is good to go to Mass, pray, to be good Christians, continued Pope Francis, but the central question is whether you have entered the mystery of Jesus Christ.
His homily began with the First Reading from the Letter to the Romans, in which Saint Paul uses sin, disobedience, grace, forgiveness, to try to “bring us to understand something.” Behind all this, there is the story of salvation. Therefore, since there are not enough words to explain Christ, Paul “drives us”, because we fall in the midst of the mystery of Christ, “explained the Pope. These contrasts, therefore, are merely steps in the journey to fall into the mystery of Christ, which is not easy to understand. To understand “who is Jesus Christ for you,” “for me,” “for us,” the Pope commented, is to fall into this mystery.
In another passage, Saint Paul, looking to Jesus, says, “He loved me and gave himself for me.” He also notes, “there is someone willing to die for a just person, but only Jesus Christ wants to give life “for a sinner like me.” With these words, said the Holy Father, Saint Paul tries to get us into the mystery of Christ. It’s not easy, “it’s a grace.” Not only the canonized Saints have understood this, but also so many saints “hidden in daily life,” humble people who only put their hope in the Lord: they entered the mystery of the crucified Jesus Christ, “which is a madness,” says Paul noting that if he were to boast of something, only he could boast of “his sins and of the crucified Jesus Christ,” not of the study with Gamaliel in the synagogue, or of any other. “Another contradiction,” is this, which leads us to the mystery of Jesus, crucified, “in dialogue with my sins.”
Pope Francis emphasized that when we go to Mass, we know that he is in the Word, that Jesus comes, but this, the Pope warned, is not enough to enter the mystery:
“Entering into the mystery of Jesus Christ is more, it is to let go into that abyss of mercy where there are no words: only the embrace of love. The love that led him to death for us. When we go to confess because we have sins, we say yes, I must have my sins taken away, let’s say; or ‘God forgive me for my sins, tell your sins to the confessor, and we will be calm and happy. If we do so, we have not entered into the mystery of Jesus Christ. If I go, I go to meet Jesus Christ, to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ, to enter into that hug of forgiveness of which Paul speaks; of that gift of forgiveness. ”
When asked about who is “Jesus for you”, you may answer “the Son of God”, you could say all the Creed, all the catechism, and it is true but we would come to a point where we would not have been able to say that at the center of the mystery of Jesus Christ, is that he “loved me” and “gave himself up for me”. “Understanding the mystery of Jesus Christ is not a matter of study,” the Pope notes, because “Jesus Christ is understood only by pure grace.”
Thus, a pious exercise helps us: the Way of the Cross, which consists in walking with Jesus when he gives us the “embrace of forgiveness and peace.”
“It’s nice to do the Via Crucis. Do it at home, thinking of moments in the Passion of the Lord. Even the great Saints always advised that we begin the spiritual life with this encounter with the mystery of Jesus Crucified. Saint Teresa advised her nuns: to get to the prayer of contemplation, the high prayer she began with the meditation of the Passion of the Lord. The Cross with Christ. Christ in the Cross. Start and think. And so, trying to understand with the heart that he loved me and gave himself for me, “he gave himself up to death for me.”
Pope Francis reiterated that in the First Reading, Saint Paul wants to bring us to the abyss of the mystery of Christ.
“I am a good Christian, I go to Mass on Sunday, I do works of mercy, I pray, I educate my children well: this is very good. But the question I ask, ‘You do all this, but have you entered the mystery of Jesus Christ?’
Finally, the Pope’s call was to look at the Crucifix, “icon of the greatest mystery of creation, of all”: “Christ crucified, the center of history, the center of my life.”