Pope Francis: While worldly kingdoms dominate, Christ’s kingdom liberates

Ann Schneible

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Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience on November 11, 2015. Credit Daniel Ibanez/CNA

In a world which employs “weapons of fear” and manipulation, the strength of Christ’s kingdom is founded in truth and love, Pope Francis said in his Sunday angelus address, during which he also remembered today’s persecuted Christians. “The strength of Christ’s reign is love,” the pontiff said Nov. 22, centering his reflection on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Rather than oppressing us, Jesus’ Kingship “frees us from our weaknesses and miseries,” and encourages us on the path of “reconciliation and forgiveness.” “Christ is not a king who dominates us, who treats us as like subjects, but who elevates us to his own dignity.” Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis took a look at the account in John’s Gospel in which Jesus tells Pontius Pilate of his kingdom which is “not of this world.” There are two logics here which are juxtaposed to each other, the Pope said: the logic of the world, and the logic of the Gospel. Worldly logic is rooted on “ambition and competition,” he said, and “fights with weapons of fear, blackmail, and manipulation of conscience.” In contrast, the logic of the Gospel expresses itself “in humility and gratitude, silently yet effectively with the strength of the truth.” The Pope observed that Jesus’ kingship is revealed on the Cross. “In speaking of power and strength, for the Christian, means to refer to the power of the Cross and the strength of Jesus’ love.” This love, Pope Francis continued, “remains resolute and complete, even in the face of rejection, and which stands out as the achievement of a life spent in the total offering of self on behalf of humanity.” The pontiff recalled the passage from the Gospel of Mark which recounts how passersby on Calvary mockingly told Jesus to save himself and come down from the Cross. “If Jesus had descended from the Cross, he would have fallen to the temptation of the world’s princes,” the Pope said. Rather, in not saving himself, he was able to save “every one of us from our sins.” The pontiff spoke on the “good thief” who, crucified next to Jesus, says to him “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” With many wounds having been made in the world and “in the flesh of men,” the Pope asked for Mary’s intercession to help us imitate Jesus, our king, who “makes his kingdom present with his acts of tenderness, understanding, and mercy.” Following the recitation of the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis recalled Saturday’s beatification of Federico da Berga and his twenty-five companions, martyred in 1936 amid the persecution of the Church in Spain. The pontiff observed that these martyrs included priests, young friars awaiting ordination, as well as lay brothers of the Franciscan Capuchin Order of Friars Minor. “We entrust to their intercession our many brothers and sisters who, sadly, even today, in various parts of the world, are persecuted because of their faith in Christ.” Pope Francis concluded his remarks asking for prayers for his scheduled visit to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. “I ask all of you to pray for this journey, in order that it may be for all these brothers and sisters, as well as for me, a sign of closeness and love,” the Pope said. The pontiff then asked everyone to recite the Hail Mary, in order to intercede to Our Lady “to bless these beloved lands, in order that they may be in peace and prosperity.” Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Africa from Nov. 25-30, with his first stop in Kenya from Nov. 25-27, followed by Uganda Nov. 27-29, and finally the Central African Republic Nov. 29-30.

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