“And this style will save us, will give us joy and make us fruitful, because this path of denying oneself is there to give us life,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse on March 6.
Calling to mind the words of Luke's Gospel on Thursday, the pontiff repeated Jesus' words to his disciples, saying “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Emphasizing how this is truly the “Christian style” because it was first put into practice by Jesus himself, the Pope observed that “We can't think of the Christian life apart from this path.”
“There is always this journey, a journey that He took first: the journey of humility, the journey, too, of humiliation, of denying oneself, and then rising.”
“But this is the path,” repeated the Pope, explaining that “without the Cross, the Christian style is not Christian, and if the Cross is a Cross without Jesus, it is not Christian. The Christian style takes the Cross with Jesus and goes forward,” but “not without the Cross, not without Jesus.”
Despite the fact that Jesus is one in being with the the Father, he gave us an example in denying himself and becoming “a servant for all of us,” the pontiff said. This “style will save us” give us “joy” and “make us fruitful.”
Highlighting how Jesus shows us this path in order to give us life, Pope Francis observed that it is completely “opposed to the path of selfishness, of being attached to all the good things for myself alone.”
“This path is open to others, because the path Jesus took – of abnegation – that path was to give life. The Christian style is precisely this style of humility, of mildness, of meekness.”
Quoting the Gospel passage once again, the pontiff stated that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,” because “if the grain of wheat does not die, it can't bear fruit.”
He then went on to describe that this death to self is a source of joy for Christians because the Lord himself “gives us joy” as long as we follow Jesus in the style of Jesus, rather than that of the world, adding that to follow Jesus means to walk his path as closely as one is able in order “to give life to others, not to give oneself life.”
Noting that often times we want to appear better or more important in the opinion of others out of selfishness, he emphasized that Jesus' way “is the spirit of generosity,” and drew attention to the book “The Imitation of Christ,” which gives the “good advice” to “love to be unknown and considered as nothing.”
Explaining that this is what “Christian humility” is, the Pope repeated that “this is our joy, and this is our fruitfulness: to go with Jesus.”
“Other joys are not fruitful” he observed, because “as Jesus said, they think only to gain the whole world, but in the end lose and ruin their lives.”
The Pope concluded his reflections by encouraging all, at the beginning of Lent, to “ask the Lord to teach us a little of this style of Christian service, of joy, of self-abnegation, and of fruitfulness with Him, as He desires.”
In his daily homily Pope Francis spoke of the Christian “style,” explaining that in order to be authentic, it must follow the path of Jesus in denying oneself, taking up the Cross, and practicing humility.
Pope Francis, Daily Mass