VATICAN CITY, May 13, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – Pope Francis is encouraging Christians to embrace martyrdom by relying on “the strength of the Spirit.”
During the homily of his daily Mass on Monday, he stated, “A Christian who does not take the dimension of martyrdom seriously in life does not understand the road that Jesus has indicated.”
The subject of his homily was “the scandal of the Cross,” which identifies the disgrace, humiliation, suffering and death represented by the Cross. The Jews at the time of Jesus' death were scandalized by the Cross, said the Pope, while the pagan Greeks, according to their philosophy, deemed it foolish.
Pope Francis urged the Christian faithful to turn to the Holy Spirit and embrace the Cross by accepting any suffering in one's life as a testimony to Christ and His love for us.
The “road that Jesus has indicated,” Francis says, is an invitation from Our Lord “to bear witness every day, defending the rights of others, defending our children.”
The Holy Father insisted that Christians turn daily to the Spirit of the Lord for help in witnessing to Jesus' message “with small everyday martyrdoms, or with a great martyrdom, according to God's will.” He said the Holy Spirit is the Church's guide, Who defends Her from the “scandal of the Cross,” which includes the “scandal of persecution.”
He adds that the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to witness to the truth of Christ's love “without being scandalized” by the trials and tribulations that may come from doing so. Bringing up the 21 Coptic Christians who were captured by ISIS and beheaded on video, Pope Francis notes, “Thanks to the strength given them by the Holy Spirit they were not scandalized. They died with the name of Jesus on their lips.”
“This is the strength of the Spirit,” he adds. “The testimony. Martyrdom is the supreme testimony.”
The Pope repeated, “This happened to me — Jesus says — it will happen to you, too — the persecutions, the tribulations — but do not be scandalized: The Holy Spirit will guide us and help us understand.”