By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency
Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) — In his general audience address, Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of suffering and evil, explaining that it is a mystery which finds its answer in the passion and death of Jesus, who endured it for each of us.
Lauren Cater / Catholic News Agency
“This week, it will do good for us all to look to the crucifix, kissing the wounds of Jesus, kissing the crucifix. He has taken upon himself the whole of human suffering,” the pope said in his April 16 Wednesday general audience.
Speaking to the thousands gathered for his weekly address, the pontiff began by drawing attention to the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts the betrayal of Judas, noting that this event marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion.
With his death on the Cross “Jesus reaches complete humiliation,” the pope observed, highlighting how “it involved the worst death; that which was reserved for slaves and criminals,” and that although “Jesus was considered a prophet,” he “died as a criminal.”
“Looking at Jesus in his passion, we see as in a mirror also the suffering of all humanity and find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of suffering, of death,” he said.
Noting that “many times we experience horror in the face of the evil and suffering that surrounds us, and we ask: why does God permit it?” the Pope said that “it’s a deep wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent!”
This wound especially stings “when we see children suffering ... it’s a wound in the heart. It’s the mystery of evil,” he said, “and Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering, upon himself.”
Often times we believe that “God in his omnipotence will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory,” he said. However instead he shows us “a humble victory that seems like a human failure to us.”
“We can say: God wins precisely in failure. The Son of God, in fact, appears on the cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is scorned and finally dies.”
Drawing attention to how “Jesus permits that evil crosses the line with him, and takes it upon himself to conquer it,” the pope emphasized that “his Passion is not an accident; his death — that death — was ‘written.’”
Referring to “the mystery of the great humility of God,” Pope Francis observed that, “Really, we don’t have many explanations; it’s a puzzling mystery. ‘For God has so loved the world that he gave his only son.’”
“This week we think so much of the pain of Jesus,” he said, “and we tell ourselves: ‘This is for me. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He would have done it.’”
“’He did it for me.’ And we kiss the crucifix and say: ‘For me. Thank you, Jesus. For me.’”
“And when all seems lost, when there is no one left because they will strike ‘the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” he said, “it is then that God intervenes with the power of the resurrection.”