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The triumphalism of Christians

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

Christian triumphalism passes through human failure, the failure of the Cross. Letting oneself be tempted by other kinds of triumphalism, by a worldly brand of triumphalism means giving in to the temptation of conceiving a “Christianity without the cross”, a “half-way Christianity”. Pope Francis’ reflection at the Mass he concelebrated on Wednesday morning 29 May, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, was centred on humility.

The day’s Gospel (Mk 10:32-45) says: the disciples “were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. Determined. We may even think in haste”. Reflecting on the restive sentiments in the hearts of the “dismayed” and “fearful” disciples, the Holy Father highlighted the conduct of the Lord who revealed the truth to them: the Son of Man was to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they would condemn him to death and kill him; but on the third day he would rise again.

The disciples were subjected to the same temptation that Jesus had faced in the wilderness, “when the devil” challenged him to work “a miracle”, the Pope said. Such as throwing himself down from the temple and saving himself in such a way that all might see it and be redeemed.

Pope Francis warned that we risk succumbing to the “temptation of a Christianity without a cross. A half-way Christianity”; but “there is another temptation”, that of “a Christianity with the cross but without Jesus”. He explained that this was the “temptation of triumphalism”. “We want triumph now”, he said, “without going to the cross, a worldly triumph, a reasonable triumph”.

“Triumphalism in the Church halts the Church. The triumphalism of us Christians halts Christians. A triumphalist Church is a half-way Church”. A Church content with being “well organized and with... all the offices in good order and efficient”, but which denied the martyrs would be “a Church which thought only of triumph and success”, and was alien to “Jesus’ rule: the rule of triumph through failure. Human failure, the failure of the cross. And we all have this temptation”.

Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Bishop Valério Breda of Penedo, Brazil, and Bishop José Manuel Garcia Cordeiro of Bragança-Miranda, Portugal. Taking part in the Mass among others were the staff of the Governorate’s worshops and technical services, Fr Dario Edoardo Viganò, Director of the Vatican Television Centre, and Mons. Francesco Ceriotti, for decades involved in the area of communications of the Italian Episcopal Conference and who was celebrating the 70th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood that day.

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