The Cross is more than jewelry – it's a call to love, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis venerates the cross on Good Friday, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

Pope Francis venerates the cross. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

.- On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a time to really contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us on the Cross, which is more than just a devotional symbol, but an exhortation to imitate the love of Christ.

“The Christian Cross is not a furnishing for the house or an ornament to wear, but a call to the love with which Jesus sacrificed himself to save humanity from evil and from sin,” the Pope said.

As Lent moves forward, he encouraged Christians to “contemplate with devotion” the image of the Jesus crucified on the Cross, which is “the symbol of our Christian faith, it’s the emblem of Jesus, died and risen for us.”

“Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey in order to increasingly understand the severity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address, which he focused on today’s Gospel passage from Matthew recounting the scene of the Transfiguration.

His Holiness, Pope Francis noted how in the passage, Matthew points out that Jesus’ face “shown like the sun and his garments became white as light.”

The “brightness” that characterizes the Transfiguration, he said, symbolizes the event’s ultimate aim, which is “to illuminate the minds and hearts of the disciples so that they are able to clearly understand who their master is.”

“It’s a flash of light that opens unexpectedly opens the mystery of Jesus and illuminates his entire person and his story,” he said.

By revealing himself in the way that he did to Peter, James and John, Jesus shows that he is a Messiah different than what was commonly expected at the time: he’s not “a powerful and glorious king, but a humble and disarmed servant; not a gentleman with great wealth, a sign of blessing, but a poor man who has not place to rest his head."

It is precisely through the Cross that Jesus will achieve “the glorious resurrection,” he said, noting that by transfiguring himself, Jesus wanted to show his disciples his glory not to help them avoid the Cross, but to “indicate where the Cross leads.”

“Whoever dies with Christ, will rise with Christ. Whoever fights together with him, will triumph with him,” the Pope said. “This is the message of hope that the Cross of Jesus contains.”

Mary, he said, was someone who knew how to contemplate this glory of Jesus that was masked by his humanity. He prayed that she would help Christians “to be with him in silent prayer, to allow ourselves to be illuminated by his presence, to carry in our heart, through the darkest of nights, a reflection of his glory.”