September 1, 2008
Optional, Says Benedict XVI
Reflects on Peter's "Immature" Faith
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Taking up one's
cross isn't an option, it's a mission all Christians are called to,
says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this today before reciting the midday Angelus with
several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal
summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
Referring to the Gospel reading for today's Mass, the Holy Father
reflected on the faith of Peter, which is shown to be "still
immature and too much influenced by the 'mentality of this world.'”
He explained that when Christ spoke openly about how he was to
"suffer much, be killed and rise again, Peter protests, saying: 'God
forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.'"
"It is evident that the Master and the disciple follow two opposed
ways of thinking," continued the Pontiff. "Peter, according to a
human logic, is convinced that God would never allow his Son to end
his mission dying on the cross.
"Jesus, on the contrary, knows that the Father, in his great love
for men, sent him to give his life for them, and if this means the
passion and the cross, it is right that such should happen."
Christ also knew that "the resurrection would be the last word,"
Benedict XVI added.
The Pope continued, "If to save us the Son of God had to suffer and
die crucified, it certainly was not because of a cruel design of the
"The cause of it is the gravity of the sickness of which he must
cure us: an evil so serious and deadly that it will require all of
"In fact, it is with his death and resurrection that Jesus defeated
sin and death, reestablishing the lordship of God."
"But the battle is not over," he added, "Evil exists and resists in
every generation, even in our own. What are the horrors of war,
violence visited on the innocent, the misery and injustice that
persecutes the weak, if not the opposition of evil to the Kingdom of
"And how does one respond to such evil if not with the unarmed love
that defeats hatred, life that does not fear death? This is the
mysterious power that Jesus used at the cost of not being understood
and of being abandoned by many of his followers."
"Dear brothers and sisters," the Holy Father continued, "to complete
the work of salvation, the Redeemer continues to draw to himself and
his mission men and women who are ready to take up the cross and
"Just as with Christ, it is not 'optional' for Christians to take up
the cross; it is rather a mission to be embraced out of love."
"In our present world," he added, "where the forces that divide and
destroy seem to prevail, Christ does not cease to propose his clear
invitation to all: Whosoever wants to be my disciple, he must
renounce his selfishness and carry the cross with me."