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Pope: Cross Without Christ is Tragedy, Spiritual Masochism

Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 14:46 (IST)

Pope Francis, during the feast of Exaltation of the Cross, warned against temptations while encountering Christ's cross.

During his weekday morning mass on Sept. 14 in the Casa Santa Marta, Vatican, he said the cross of Christ "is a mystery of love". However, while going in front it, there are two spiritual temptations: Following Christ without acknowledging his Cross, diminishing him to a spiritual master, and thinking of a Cross without Christ, meaning without hope, leading to a kind of "spiritual masochism".

The cross without Christ would, however, is "a mystery of tragedy," said Francis.

According to the summary of his sermon published by Vatican Radio, he said it's not always easy to understand the cross as it is a noble and faithful tree. "Only with contemplation can one move forth in this mystery of love," he added.

While explaining the day's Bible passage, in which Jesus described to Nicodemus the mystery of the cross, the pope said Christ does so using two verbs: "lift up" and "come down."

"Jesus came down from heaven to lift us all up to Heaven. This is the mystery of the Cross," said Francis.

He also noted what Apostle Paul said about Jesus: He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

"This is Jesus coming down: To the bottom, the humiliation, he emptied himself for love, and for this God exalted him and made him ascend," said Francis.

"Only if we can understand this descent to the end can we understand the salvation that this mystery of love offers us," he added.

Christ without cross reduces him to a mere spiritual teacher, nothing else. On the other hand, the cross without Christ, results in anguish held down by "the weight of sin, hopeless," said Francis.

This is spiritual masochism. "Only the cross; without hope, without Christ," he added.