Recalling the passion of Jesus, Pope Francis compared Christ's life to the brutal persecution of modern-day Christians -- including those beheaded by Islamic terrorists and the students slaughtered in Kenya al Shabaab, a Muslim militant group.
"In you, divine love, we still see today our persecuted brothers, beheaded and crucified for their faith in you, before our eyes or often with our silent complicity," the Pope said Friday in a massive service at the Colosseum in Rome.
“In Your obedience to the will of the Father,” Francis said in his prayer to Jesus, “we become aware of our rebellion and disobedience. In You—sold, betrayed, and crucified by Your people and Your loved ones—we see our daily betrayals and our habitual infidelities.”
On Saturday, Francis walked through the dark streets to St. Peter's Basilica at the start of the vigil Mass, which precedes the celebration on Easter Sunday commemorating Christ's resurrection after his crucifixion.
In his homily, Francis said the Easter mystery requires the faithful to seek an answer "to the questions which challenge our faith, our fidelity, and our very existence."
His Saturday remarks were far tamer than those Friday, when he said:
“In Your innocence, immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In Your face slapped, spat upon and disfigured, we see all the brutality of our sins. In the cruelties of Your Passion, we see the cruelty of our hearts and our actions. In Your feeling ‘abandoned,’ we see all those abandoned by their families and by society."
At the end of his Friday prayer, the Pope asked that Christians might experience “sorrow for our sins that will bring us to repent for our sins that crucified You.”
“Teach us,” he said, “that Good Friday is the road to Easter light; teach us that God never forgets any of His children and never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with His infinite mercy.”