In parsing the teachings of Pope Francis during his visit to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, I was taken by his admonition to the young to not “liquidize” their faith. That faith in Jesus cannot be reduced for easy and fast consumption.
Speaking to a crowd of young Argentineans in Rio’s cathedral, the Holy Father reminded them, “It is a scandal that God made Himself one of us. It is a scandal that He died on a cross. It is a scandal: the scandal of the Cross. But it is the only sure path: that of the Cross, the path of Jesus, that of the incarnation of Jesus. Please, do not ‘liquidise’ your faith in Jesus Christ.”
In addressing the Bishops of Brazil Pope Francis further developed the idea when he observed that “People today are attracted by things that are faster and faster: rapid Internet connections, speedy cars and planes, instant relationships. But at the same time we see a desperate need for calmness, I would even say slowness.”
Our culture is unwavering in its commitment to make everything quick and easy. Reduce the book of life to “Cliff Notes.” We may be able to survive physically on fast food, but we cannot survive spiritually on Fast Faith.
It is all about the cross. Jesus and the cross cannot be separated. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Most of us are frightened by these words of Jesus. We try to avoid crosses…no we try to run away from them. We prefer “Christianity Lite” We much prefer John 13:35 “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
What we forget is that the cross is the supreme symbol of love. As the Pope said to the Brazilian bishops, “Nothing is loftier than the abasement of the cross since there we truly approach the height of love.” There is only one sure path, that of the cross, the path of Jesus, the path of love and forgiveness…the path that leads not only to the Crucifixion but finally to the Resurrection.
Whether our cross is illness and pain or heartbreak and loneliness our cross is a path to Jesus.