Pope Francis reminded the congregation assembled for his daily Mass at the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican yesterday that those who live the Christian life will suffer persecution, and he said that this reality is evidenced by the fact that there are more martyrs for the Christian faith in modern times than there have been at any time in Church history. We are never given more than we can bear when taking up the Cross, the Pope pointed out. “But (people say) 'today we are better educated and these things no longer exist.' Yes they do! And I tell you that today there are more martyrs than during the early times of the Church,” Francis pointed out.
The Pope said that Jesus told Peter that the rewards for following him would be great, but not without suffering. “It’s as if Jesus said, 'Yes, you have left everything and you will receive here on earth many things: but with persecutions!' Like a salad with the oil of persecution: always! “This is what the Christian gains and this is the road for the person who wants to follow Jesus, because it’s the road that He himself trod: He was persecuted!”
Reminding the faithful of the words of St. Paul in the epistle to the Philippians which are repeated each week in the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, Pope Francis said that “Jesus emptied himself and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross, the path of a Christian is the road of humbling yourself.”
Francis reflected on the reason that Christians are persecuted for the faith. This is because the world does not tolerate the divinity of Christ,” said the Pontiff, “It doesn’t tolerate the preaching of the Gospel. It does not tolerate the Beatitudes. Because of this we have persecutions: with words, with insults, the things that they said about Christians in the early centuries, the condemnations, imprisonment,” he reflected. “We think of the many Christians, 60 years ago, in the labor camps, in the camps of the Nazis, of the communists: So many of them! For being Christians!” the Pope exclaimed, saying that today “they are condemned for having a Bible. They can’t wear a crucifix, this is the road of Jesus. But it is a joyful road because our Lord never tests us beyond what we can bear,” Francis reminded, “Christian life is not a commercial advantage, it’s not making a career: It’s simply following Jesus!” The Pope challenged his listeners to “be courageous in bearing witness to Jesus.”