Jesus, the living God, helps believers on path to holiness, pope says
Pope Francis said Jesus continues to ask his followers, "Who do you say that I am?" just as he asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13-20.
Pope Francis greets visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to pray the Angelus Aug. 27, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Jesus were just a great teacher or prophet or even hero from the past, imitating him and following him on the path to holiness would be impossible, Pope Francis said.
But because Jesus Christ is the son of the living God, "we are not alone on the path of life; because Christ is with us, Christ helps us to walk," the pope said Aug. 27 before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis told an estimated 10,000 people gathered for the midday prayer that they should ask themselves the same question Jesus asked the disciples in the day's Gospel reading, Mt 16:13-20, "Who do you say that I am?"
In the reading, St. Peter replies, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God."
The apostle recognizes that Jesus "is not a character from the past, but the Christ, that is, the Messiah, the awaited one," the pope said. He is not "a dead hero, but the son of the living God, made man and come to share the joys and the labors of our journey."
When living the Christian ideals seems too difficult, "the path too steep," he said, "let us look to Jesus, always; let us look to Jesus who walks beside us, who accepts our frailties, shares our efforts and rests his firm and gentle arm on our weak shoulders."
If Jesus "were merely a historic figure, to imitate him today would be impossible," the pope said, and not just because "we would find ourselves faced with the great chasm of time," but also because his way of living and acting would be "like a very high, unscalable mountain; we would want to climb it, but lack the ability and the necessary means."
"Instead, Jesus is living," the pope told the crowd. "Remember this, Jesus is living, Jesus lives in the church, He lives in the world, Jesus accompanies us, Jesus is by our side, he offers us his Word and his grace, which enlighten and refresh us on the journey."
Jesus, "an expert and wise guide, is happy to accompany us on the most difficult paths and the steepest slopes," Pope Francis said.