"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 March 12.
Vatican City, Italy - 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 Sunday
Angelus address, which he focused on today's
Gospel passage from Matthew recounting the
scene of the Transfiguration.
Speaking from the window of the papal
apartments in the Vatican's Apostolic
Palace, Francis noted how in the passage,
Matthew points out that Jesus' face "shown
like the sun and his garments became white
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.
Since they are already drawing near to
Jerusalem, where Jesus will undergo his
violent Passion and death, the Lord wants to
prepare them for "this scandal that's too
strong for their faith and, at the same
time, announce his resurrection, manifesting
himself as the Messiah," the Pope 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; not a
patriarch with numerous descendants, but a
homeless bachelor without a nest."
"It's truly a revelation of God upside
down," Pope Francis said, explaining that
"the most disconcerting sign of this
scandalous reversal is the Cross."
However, it's 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
Pope Francis venerates the cross on Good
Friday (L'Osservatore Romano).
"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
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."
After leading pilgrims in the traditional
Angelus prayer, Francis offered special
prayers for the victims of a March 8 fire at
a safe house for girls in Guatemala.
"Brothers and sisters, I express my
closeness to the people of Guatemala who
live in mourning due to the grave and sad
news of the fire that erupted inside the
Virgin of the Assumption Safe House, causing
victims and wounded among the girls who
lived there," he said.
The fire occurred March 8 after a group
of girls and teenagers rioted to protest
what they alleged was physical and sexual
abuse at the facilities. Authorities said
that some of the children set fire to
mattresses and the fire then spread to the
rest of the facility.
The center, located in the San Antonio area
of the town of San Josť Pinula, was created
to provide protection for about 400 girls
and teenagers abandoned and at risk.
However, it currently houses close to 750
children, including those in trouble with
According to State officials, the girls who
died in the fire were unable to get out
because they were locked in a room,
apparently as a punishment. The previous
night, some 60 children escaped from the
In his address, Pope Francis prayed that
the Lord would "welcome their souls, heal
the wounded, console their grieving families
and the entire nation."
He also invited faithful to pray with him
"for all boys and girls who are victims of
violence, mistreatment, exploitation and
"This is a plague," he said. "This is a
hidden cry that must be heard by all of us
and which we can't continue to pretend not
to see or to hear."