Pope Francis: Let’s take a step back!

12 September 2021
As to Pope Francis there are three steps to renew ourselves as disciples: proclaiming Jesus, discerning with Jesus, and following Jesus.

At the Statio Orbis, the closing ceremonial mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Heroes’ Square, Budapest, in his homily the Holy Father quoted from St. Mark’s Gospel (Mark 8:29) when Jesus asked his disciples at Caesarea, Philippi “Who do you say that I am?” The Pontiff marked it as a turning point for the disciples in following their Master. Though the disciples knew Jesus, and they were very close to him, still they were thinking otherwise. Their decisive step was still missing. The step that leads from admiring Jesus to following Jesus.” – said the Head of the Catholic Church adding: “Today too, the Lord looks at each of us personally and asks: “Who am I – in fact – for you? Pope Francis points out that this question does not expect a definite answer out of the catechism, rather it expects a personal response that can be given through our life, and that renews us as disciples. He outlined the three steps that we all, the humans of our days, can take similarly to the disciples. Proclaiming Jesus, discerning with Jesus, and following Jesus.

1. Proclaiming Jesus

Peter answered Jesus’ question: “You are the Messiah.” Surprisingly Jesus “charged them not to tell anyone about this.” But why is this strict prohibition? As to the Holy Father, there was a good reason for that: if we call Jesus Christ the Messiah, it is correct, however incomplete. “There is always the risk of proclaiming a false Messiah, one of human origin, and not from God.” – said the Pontiff and added: From that moment on, Jesus gradually reveals his real “paschal” identity that we can discover in the Eucharist. He explains that the summit of his mission is the glory of the resurrection, but only after the abasement of the crucifixion. In other words, it would be revealed as to the wisdom of God, which, as St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians “it is not of this age or of the rulers of this age.” The Holy Father emphasized that Jesus demanded silence as for his identity as the Messiah, but did not do it as for the cross that was awaiting him. In fact, - as the evangelist notes – Jesus began to teach “openly” that “the Son of man must suffer a lot, elders, the chief priests and the scribes would reject him, and the Son of man be killed, and rise again after three days.” – said the Pontiff in his homily.

Pope Francis outlined that these shocking words of Jesus bewildered the people. “We would like to have a powerful Messiah instead of a crucified servant. The Eucharist is here to remind us who God is.” – he stated, adding that he does not make these reminders with pure words, but “in a concrete way, showing us God as a broken bread, a love that was crucified and bestowed. He also underlined that God always remains there “in the simplicity of the bread, ready to be broken, distributed and eaten, as a gifted love. Christ became a servant to save us. He died for us to give us life.”

2. Discerning with Jesus

At the beginning of his homily Pope Frances led us the second step by showing Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ question. It was a typically human reaction: as soon as the cross, the prospect of pain appears, the man rebels. Peter is scandalized by his Master’s words and tries to dissuade him from following this path. “The Cross has never been fashionable, neither in the past, nor nowadays. At the same time it brings an inner healing.” – outlined the Holy Father expressing that: “standing before the Crucifixion, a fruitful interior struggle is experienced, resulting in a conflict between ‘thinking as God does’ and ‘thinking as humans do’. As for the differences between the two thinking Pope Francis explains it as on the one hand we have God’s way of thinking, which is the humble love. “God’s way is very far from any kind of pressure, ostentation and triumphalism. God’s way always aims to look for the good of others, even at the point of self-sacrifice. While on the other hand there is our human way of thinking, the logic of the material world that is attached to honour and privileges, and is grasping for prestige and success. Here it matters a lot who has power, what attracts the most attention of people and who can get more benefits.”

“As it happened to Peter, it can also happen to us that we take aside the Lord into a corner of our heart, while continuing to think of ourselves as religious and respectable person, we are going on further on our own way without letting ourselves to be affected by Jesus’ logics.” said the Pontiff, expressing that as to him Jesus remains at our side in this inner struggle of ours, since “he wants us, like the Apostles, to take His side.” He also outlined that the difference is not between who is religious and who is not, but rather in the ultimate difference between the true God and the God of ‘self’.” How far the God is, quietly reigning on the cross, from the false god, whom we want to reign with power in order to silence our enemies! How different Christ is, presenting himself with love alone, from all the powerful and winning messiahs worshipped by the world. Jesus expects us to purify our religiosity before his cross, before the Eucharist. Pope Francis called attention for the importance of the Eucharistic Adoration. “Let us make time for Adoration, let us allow Jesus, the Living Bread to heal us from our closeness, to open us up for sharing, to liberate us from our own rigidity and self-concern, and from the paralyzing slavery of defending our own image, and to inspire us to follow him wherever he wants us to be.” - called us the Holy Father.

3. Walking behind Jesus

“Get behind me, Satan” – commands Jesus, as he straightens Peter – quoted the Holy Father, adding that besides the Lord’s commands there is He, the Lord himself helping Peter with his grace to fulfil his request. Peter accepts the grace and makes a stepping back – reminded us the Pontiff and outlined that the Christian journey begins with a stepping back, enabling us to find freedom by not needing to be at the centre of everything. He recalled that Peter realized that the centre is not his Jesus, but the real Jesus. “Though he keeps falling sometimes, but in passing from forgiveness to forgiveness, he comes to see more and more clearly the face of God, thereby passing from an empty admiration for Christ to an authentic imitation of Christ.” – explained to us the Holy father of the first Pope’s spiritual development.

Going behind Jesus means that we go ahead on our life path with Jesus’ own trust, knowing that we are beloved children of God, we are passing in the footsteps of the Master, who came to serve and not to be served – emphasized Pope Francis in his homily. Following the footsteps of Jesus means that each day we step to encounter our brothers and sisters. The Eucharist insists us to do so, to realize that we are one Body that is broken for the sake of others.” – referred the Holy Father to the Holy Sacrament, and invited the faithful to let themselves be transformed by Jesus through the Eucharist, to let themselves be changed by this meeting as it has transformed the great and courageous Saints. He recalled here in particular Saint Stephen and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. He asked the faithful never be satisfied with the little: “never resign ourselves to a faith based on ritual and repletion only, but be far more open to the scandalous newness of the crucified and risen God, who gave his life to the world as broken bread. In this way, we will live a joyful life, and bring joy to others.” – promised the Archbishop of Rome.

Pope Francis also invited to take this International Eucharistic Congress as a starting point, the beginning of a journey in the footsteps of Jesus, to always look ahead, to welcome the Kairos of grace to transform us, and to ask ourselves each day by the Lord’s question: Who do you say that I am? - concluded his homily Pope Francis.