Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, reflecting on the day’s Gospel (Mk 8:27-35).
Jesus, the Holy Father said, asks his disciples the question that runs through the whole of Mark’s Gospel: “Who is Jesus?”. Pope Francis said Jesus helps his disciples gradually to come to grips with this basic question about his identity.
Short-sightedness vs. personal relationship
First, Jesus asks them who others say he is.
The Pope said Jesus considers the disciples’ responses inadequate. “He does not even accept his disciples’ answers using pre-packaged formulas, citing famous people from Sacred Scripture,” the Pope said, “because a faith that is reduced to formulas is a short-sighted faith.”
Pope Francis said the Lord is inviting his disciples, now as then, “to establish a personal relationship with him, and thus welcome him as the center of their lives.”
He said Jesus speaks to us at the depth of our being, and urges us to ask ourselves in all truth: “Who am I for you?”
“Each one of us,” said Pope Francis, “is called to respond, in his or her own heart, letting ourselves be illuminated by the light that the Father gives us to know his Son Jesus.”
‘You are the Christ’
The Pope said that, at times, we may respond enthusiastically like Peter, “You are the Christ”. But, like him, we may also wish to avoid the “arduous path of the suffering, humiliated, rejected, and crucified Servant”, which the Holy Father said is the only path by which Jesus’ mission can be fulfilled.
Pope Francis said our lives must bear witness to our faith.
“The profession of faith in Jesus Christ cannot stop at words,” he said, “but must be authenticated by concrete choices and gestures, by a life sealed with the love of God and neighbor.” Denying ourselves, as faith in Jesus requires, rids us of “the pretensions of selfish pride”, the Pope said.
Finally, Pope Francis said we may sometimes take the wrong path in life, especially when we look for happiness in things.
“But we only find happiness when love – true love – encounters us, surprises us, and changes us.”