VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) - Though letting go of yourself and living for others can make you seem weak in the eyes of the world, Pope Francis said that this is the purpose of our lives, and that in the logic of God, it's what makes us truly victorious.
"Whoever serves and gives, seems like a failure in the eyes of the world. In reality, it is exactly in giving their life that they find it," Francis said.
A life that "takes possession of itself, losing itself in love, imitates Christ" in defeating death and giving life to the world, he said, adding that "whoever serves, saves. On the contrary, those who don't serve have no reason to be alive."
On Nov. 3, Pope Francis offered Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for all the cardinals and bishops who have died throughout the year. In his homily, he said that one's life ought to be spent imitating Jesus' example of humble service and self-giving, rather than focusing on one's own needs and interests.
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for others - and he did it out of love, the Pope said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew.
The love of Jesus is "truly a concrete love, so concrete that he took our death upon himself...This is the abasement that the Son of God underwent: bending down to us as a servant to assume everything that is ours, opening wide for us the doors of life," he said.
Francis then turned to the biblical episode of the Book of Numbers in which the Israelites were dying due to poisonous snake bites. As a remedy, God instructed Moses to mount an image of a serpent on a pole, telling him that whoever looked into it would be saved.
The Israelites who had been bitten "didn't die, but remained alive if they looked at into the bronze serpent that Moses, by the order of God, raised on a pole."
"A serpent saved them from the serpents," he observed. "It's the same logic of the cross...his death saves us from our death."
Just as the snakes in the desert caused a painful death preceded by fear and a venomous bite, death also appears dark and agonizing to us, the Pope said. However, instead of avoiding this, Jesus took it fully upon himself.
God's style, which saves us by "serving (us) and annihilating himself," has a lot to teach us, Francis continued, noting that while we might expect a triumphant divine victory, Jesus shows us a humble one instead.
"Raised on the Cross, he allows death and evil to assail him while he continues to love," which is a reality that for us can be hard to accept, Pope Francis said.
"It's a mystery, but the secret of this mystery, of this extraordinary humility, lies in the power of love. In the Passover of Jesus, we see together death and the remedy for death, and this is possible because of the great love with which God has loved us, because of the humble love with which he lowered himself, because of the service which knows how to assume the condition of the servant."
Jesus not only overcame death, but transformed it into something good, he said, explaining that we can share in his victory if we choose to love like him, with an attitude of service and humility.
Pope Francis concluded by encouraging attendees not to be attached to worldly possessions, but to place their security in Jesus and the salvation he offers.
"May the Passover of the Lord be enough in our lives, enough to be free from the anxieties of the ephemeral, which pass and vanish into thin air; may he be sufficient for us in whom is found life, salvation, resurrection and joy." he said.
"Then we will be servants according to his heart: not employed officials, but beloved children who give their lives for the world."