RIO DE JANEIRO — The cross of Christ is an invitation for us to fall in love with him and to then reach out and help our neighbors, Pope Francis said today at the conclusion of the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day.
“The cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching
us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness,” the Pope prayed July 26 on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.
“Especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action, which requires us to step outside ourselves to meet them and to extend a hand to them.”
World Youth Day’s Stations of the Cross stretched across a mile of Brazilian beachfront, concluding at the stage from which Pope Francis address the crowd of faithful.
The reflections for the devotion were written by two members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Fathers Zezinho and Joaozinho, who are known in Brazil for their commitment to youth ministry.
Pope Francis began by calling the Way of the Cross an accompaniment of “Jesus on his journey of sorrow and love” and “one of the most intense moments of World Youth Day.”
He recalled that the World Youth Day cross was entrusted to the young people of the world by Blessed John Paul II in 1984. It has traveled throughout Brazil since the last World Youth Day, preparing the country for to be the destination for millions of pilgrims.
“No one can approach and touch the cross of Jesus without leaving something of himself or herself there and without bringing something of the cross of Jesus into his or her own life,” Pope Francis said.
He addressed three questions to the pilgrims, which he hoped “will echo in your hearts”: What have you left on the cross? What has Jesus’ cross left for you? And what does his cross teach us?
Whatever we leave on the cross–“our fears, our problems and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful”–Jesus “walks with us” and takes it upon himself, Pope Francis assured the pilgrims.