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Pope at Mass: The temptation of triumphalism
(Vatican Radio) Triumphalism impedes the Church: it is the temptation of a Christianity without the Cross, a Church that only wants to go half way on the journey of redemption, overly concerned with organization and success, without understanding that real triumph is born out of failure, like the triumph of Christ on the Cross. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. Emer McCarthy reports:
The Gospel of the day recounts how Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem with his disciples, announces His passion, death and resurrection. Pope Francis described it as “the journey of faith”. He noted the disciples have another plan in mind, they plan to go only half way, that it is better to stop and they discuss among themselves how to arrange the Church and arrange salvation. Thus , John and James, ask Him to grant that in His glory one may sit one at His right and the other at His left, prompting a argument among the other about who was most important in the Church.
Pope Francis observed that “the disciples’ temptation is the same of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, when the devil proposed another path to Him": "Do everything with speed, preform a miracle, something that everyone can see. Let’s go to the temple and skydive without a parachute, so everyone will see the miracle and redemption will come to pass".
The Pope said this was also Peter’s temptation when he at first does not accept the passion of Jesus: "It is the temptation of a Christianity without the Cross, a half-way Christianity." There is also another temptation, "a Christianity with the Cross without Jesus" of which the Pope said he would speak at another occasion. But "the temptation of Christianity without the Cross", to be "half-way Christians, a half-way Church " – that does not want to arrive there where the Father wants, "is the temptation of triumphalism. We want the triumph now, without going to the Cross, a worldly triumph, a reasonable triumph ":
"Triumphalism in the Church, impedes the Church. Triumphalism among Christians, impedes Christians. A triumphalist, half-way Church that is a Church that is content with what it is or has, well sorted – well organized - with all its offices, everything in order, everything perfect no? Efficient. But a Church that denies its martyrs, because it does not know that martyrs are needed for Churches’ the journey towards the Cross. A Church that only thinks about triumphs, successes, does not know that rule of Jesus: the rule of triumph through failure, human failure, the failure of the Cross. And this is a temptation that we all have”.
The Pope, then, recalled a special episode in his life:
"I remember once, I was in a dark moment in my spiritual life and I asked a favor from the Lord. Then I went to preach the annual spiritual retreat to nuns and on the last day the made their confession. One elderly nun, over 80 years of age, but with clear, bright eyes came to confession: she was a woman of God. In the end I saw that she really was a woman of God so I said ‘ Sister, as penance, pray for me, because I need a grace, ok? If you asks the Lord for this grace on my behalf, I am sure to receive it'. She stopped for a moment, as if in prayer, and said, 'Of course the Lord will grant you this grace, but do not be deceived: in His own divine manner’. This did me a lot of good. To hear that the Lord always gives us what we ask for, but in His own divine way. And this is the divine way to the very end. The divine way involves the Cross, not out of masochism: no, no! Out of love. For love to the very end”.
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer:
"We ask the Lord for the grace that we may not be a half-way Church, a triumphalist Church, of great successes, but a humble Church, that walks with decision, just like Jesus. Forward, forward, forward. With a heart open to the will of the Father, just like Jesus. We ask for this grace. "