Pope Francis urged Christians on Tuesday to learn from the example of Jesus Christ dying so that others may live.
All of us “are specialists in crucifying others to save ourselves,” the pontiff said in a homily delivered in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. “Yet Jesus allowed himself to be crucified, in order to teach us not to shift evil to others.”
In Tuesday’s ecumenical gathering to pray for peace, the pope worshiped together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Bishop Heinrich, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany.
The inclination to save oneself and let others perish is “a great temptation,” Francis said. “It spares no one, including us Christians.”
It is a temptation “to think only of saving ourselves and our own circle” and to “focus only on our own problems and interests, as if nothing else mattered,” the pope added.
This self-centeredness is the great temptation that assails all humanity and reflects a desire to reduce God to our own level instead of letting Him lift us up, he said.
“How often do we want a god in our own image, rather than to become conformed to his own image,” he said. “We want a god like ourselves, rather than becoming ourselves like God. In this way, we prefer the worship of ourselves to the worship of God.”
God “does not come only to free us from our ever-present daily problems, but rather to liberate us from the real problem, which is the lack of love,” he said. “This is the primary cause of our personal, social, international and environmental ills.”
“Thinking only of ourselves: this is the father of all evils,” he declared.
“God points a finger at no one, but instead embraces all,” he asserted. “For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us.”
“When we are tempted to follow the way of this world, may we be reminded of Jesus’s words: ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it,’” Francis concluded.
“May we learn from the Lord, who saved us by emptying himself and becoming other: from being God, he became man; from spirit, he became flesh; from a king, he became a slave,” he said.