MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
Fear of the Cross
Saturday, 28 September 2013
(by L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n.
41, 9 October 2013)
The Cross is frightening. However, following Jesus inevitably means accepting
the cross that is placed along every Christian’s path. Therefore, we need to ask
Our Lady, who knew how to remain beneath the Cross, for the grace not to run
away from it even when we are afraid. This was the heart of the reflection Pope
Francis offered on Saturday morning, 28 September, during the Mass he celebrated
at the Chapel of Santa Marta.
Commenting on the day’s Gospel passage from St Luke (9:43-45), the Holy
Father recalled that “Jesus was involved in many activities and everyone
marvelled at everything he did. He was the leader at the time. All Judea,
Galilee and Samaria were talking about him. And perhaps in a moment when the
disciples were greatly rejoicing, Jesus said to them: ‘Let these words sink into
your minds: the Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men’”.
In a moment of triumph, the Pope noted, Jesus announces his Passion. The
disciples, however, were so taken by the festive atmosphere that “they did not
understand this saying; and it was concealed from them, that they should not
perceive it”. The Holy Father continued: “they did not ask for explanations. The
Gospel says: ‘they were afraid to ask him about this saying’”. Better not to
talk about it. Better “not to understand the truth”. They were afraid of the
The truth is that even Jesus was afraid of it. However, the Pope explained,
“he could not deceive himself. He knew. And so great was his fear that on the
night of Holy Thursday he sweat blood. He even asked God: ‘Father, remove this
cup from me’. But, he added: ‘Thy will be done’. And this is the difference. The
Cross scares us”.
This also happens when we commit ourselves to being witnesses of the Gospel
and to following Jesus. “We are all content”, the Holy Father noted, but we do
not ask any further questions, we do not speak about the Cross. And yet, he
continued, just as there is a rule which states that “a disciple is not greater
than his master” (a rule we respect), so too there is also a rule which states
that “there is no redemption without the shedding of blood”. And “there is no
fruitful apostolic work without the Cross”. Each one of us, he explained, might
think: “what will happen to me? What will my cross be like? We do not know”, he
said, “but there will be a cross, and we need to ask for the grace not to flee
when it comes. Of course it scares us, but this is precisely where following
Jesus takes us. Jesus’ words to Peter come to mind: “Do you love me? Feed … Do
you love me? Tend … Do you love me? Feed … (cf. Jn 21:15-19), and these were
among his last words to him: ‘They will carry you where you do not wish to go’.
He was announcing the Cross”.
This is precisely why the disciples where afraid to ask him, the Holy Father
concluded, returning to the Gospel passage. “It was his mother who was closest
to him at the Cross. Perhaps today, on the day when we pray to her, it would be
good to ask her for the grace, not to take away our fear since this must be. Let
us ask her for the grace not to run away from the cross. She was there and she
knows how to remain close to the Cross”.