In his Friday morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about the Christians who were crucified in Syria by yihadists, for refusing to reject their faith.
Even though it may be surprising to many, he said, Christians are indeed still persecuted.
"We see the joy of so many of our brothers and sisters who have experienced this joy in history. The joy of being deemed worthy to suffer assaults in the name of Jesus. But today, there are still many! In some countries, if you carry the Gospel, you can go to jail. You can't carry a cross, because you'll have to pay a fine. But still, the heart rejoices.”
Reflecting on the Gospel readings, he encouraged Christians to not give into jealousy, describing evil as the son of the devil.
EXCEPRT OF THE POPE'S HOMILY
(Source: Vatican Radio)
"They had paid to silence the truth. People can be really evil sometimes! Because when we pay to hide the truth, we are [committing] a very great evil. And that's why people knew who they were. They would not follow them, but they had to tolerate them because they had authority: the authority of the cult, the authority of the ecclesiastical discipline at that time, the authority of the people ... and the people followed. Jesus said that they weighed people down with oppressive weights and made them carry them on their shoulders. These people cannot tolerate the meekness of Jesus, they cannot tolerate the meekness of the Gospel, they cannot tolerate love. And they pay out of envy, out of hate".
"These, with their political maneuvering, with their ecclesiastical maneuvers to continue to dominate the people ... And so, they bring forth the apostles, after this wise man had spoken, the called the apostles and had them flogged and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they freed them. ‘We have to do something, we will give them a sound hiding and send them on their way! . Unjust! but they did it. They were the masters of conscience [thought police], and felt they had the power to do so. Masters of conscience ... Even in today's world , there are so many".
"First icon: Jesus with people, his love, the path that He has taught us, which we should follow. The second icon: the hypocrisy of these religious leaders of the people, who had people imprisoned with these many commandments, with this cold, hard legality, and who also paid to hide the truth. Third icon: the joy of the Christian martyrs, the joy of so many of our brothers and sisters who have felt this joy in history, this joy that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Christ’s name. And today there are still so many! Just think that in some countries, you can go to jail for just carrying a Gospel. You may not wear a crucifix or you will be fined. But the heart rejoices. The three icons: let us look at them today. This is part of our history of salvation".