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‘Don’t be your own boss,’ Pope tells faithful

By on Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Pope Francis (Photo: AP)

Pope Francis (Photo: AP)

Following Jesus isn’t complicated but it does takes courage, Pope Francis has said in recent morning Mass homilies at the Vatican.

The Pope celebrated Mass on Saturday with volunteers who work at a Vatican pediatric clinic for immigrants and the poor, and on Monday with the staff of the Vatican press office. Both Masses were held in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the Pontiff currently lives.

“Sometimes we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord,” the Pope said during Monday’s Mass, according to Vatican Radio.

In the day’s Gospel reading (Jn 10:1-10), Jesus describes himself as the “gate for the sheep” and talks about thieves and robbers who try to climb over or under the fence to get into the sheepfold.

Pope Francis explained that there is a constant temptation to “find other gates or windows for entering into the kingdom of God, but one can enter only through that gate called Jesus.”

Even within the Christian community, he said, there are “climbers,” who want to give themselves glory or choose a path to happiness that isn’t Christ.

“Some of you may say: ‘Father, you’re a fundamentalist.’ No, simply put, this is what Jesus said,” the Pope told the congregation.

The way to show that you have entered the fold through Christ, he added, is to be living examples of the beatitudes, “be poor, be meek, be just” and “do what Matthew 25 says” by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting prisoners.

Two days earlier, celebrating Mass with the pediatric clinic volunteers, Pope Francis spoke about “lukewarm Christians,” who consciously or not, try to build a church to their own liking, demanding it measure up to their expectations rather than trying to live up to its expectations.

The Acts of the Apostles (9: 31) describes the early Christian community as walking “in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit,” which Pope Francis said means living with a sense of God’s presence and in adoration of the Lord.

“When we are in the presence of God, we do not do bad things or make bad decisions. We are in God’s sight with joy and happiness,” he said. “This is the security of the Holy Spirit, that is the gift that the Lord has given us, this comfort, that keeps us going.”

  • Peter

    The Holy Father is saying that we can only enter the sheepfold through Christ by serving him in the person of his suffering brother or sister. Worship alone is not enough for salvation because, while paying lip service at the altar, it ignores Christ who is suffering outside in the street. Radical stuff, and yet profoundly orthodox.

  • Matthew Holder

    To describe the liturgy as no more than ‘paying lip service at the altar’ is certainly ‘radical stuff’. It might be considered ‘revolutionary’!

  • Benedict Carter

    Indeed. Peter is so fixated on “the poor” that he thinks none of the rest of us care two figs for them.

    As to his “Radical stuff, and yet profoundly orthodox”, calling the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass “paying lip service at the altar” is hardly orthodox; while the call to care for those in need is hardly “radical” to the Church, already two thousand years old.

    Peter is a victim of the modern Church. I feel sorry for him. He does not appear to see that the Mass and the other Sacraments are intimately bound up with works of charity. Works of charity indeed without the grace of the Sacraments are empty works which do not sanctify. He thinks you can have the one without the other. It’s essentially a protestant view.

  • Peter

    Worshipping Catholics who ignore the poorest will end us a goats. “Lord” they will say “when did we not see you while we went to Mass and attended the sacraments?”

    On the other hand, non-Christians who serve the poorest will be the sheep, even though they don’t know Christ. “Lord, when did we see you”.

    Salvation extends beyond the visible limits of the Church.

  • Peter

    What’s the point in acknowledging the presence of Christ in his glorified flesh and blood on the altar, if we ignore his presence in the earthly flesh and blood of his suffering little brothers and sisters? No amount of liturgical acknowledgement will compensate for neglect.

  • Joe Zammit

    “When we are in the presence of God, we do not do bad things or make bad decisions.” It is completely true. In the Old Testament we read that if we think of the last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell) we never sin. Imagine if we think of the Holy Trinity.

    Try it! Start thinking often of God and raise some thoughts to him. You will have plenty of time to do it during the day and night when you wake up. By time, you will naturally, but by God’s grace, increase this habit, you will acquire a higher degree of the virtue of prayer, and have greater power in your will to win temptations.

    I have to pass to another higher degree of prayer: if you are faithful, God can give you also a special grace: that of contemplating him always, also amid all your work. I know it is a special grace, I fear to call it ‘infused’ as well, but if it is not, it resembles the ‘infused’. For instance, now, while I am writing this comment, I am thinking of what I am going to say, but at the same time the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is very strong before me.

    As soon as the least temptation crosses my mind, the temptation suddenly disappears on account of the strong presence of the Holy Trinity. I know it’s a special grace for which I have to thank God continuously. I live it without any special effort on my part.

    This type of genuine, loving prayer can aslo take the form of just a smile: smiling interiorly to the Holy Trinity, smiling out of a great and deep love for the three Divine Persons.

  • Hermit Crab

    Would you perhaps desribe yourself as a “non -denominational Christian”, rather than a Catholic?

  • andHarry

    ‘On the other hand, non-Christians who serve the poorest will be the
    sheep, even though they don’t know Christ. “Lord, when did we see
    you”.’

    No. The ones they did not see were Christ’s brethren in prison, etc. When Christ confronted Paul on the road to Damascus He asked, ”Why do you persecute me?” If I persecute my neighbours I do not persecute Christ – though I am commanded to love them as myself.

  • Peter

    As a Catholic who recognises the real presence of Jesus Christ at the altar, I, like all other Catholics, am at risk if I don’t also recognise his presence in the least of his brethren and act accordingly.

  • Benedict Carter

    You miss the point entirely Peter, which doesn’t surprise me.

  • Kevin

    “and visiting prisoners”

    This part needs some qualification. One is on safe ground if the prisoner is, say, a Catholic cleric or layman who has been unjustly jailed under the Public Order Act or some such concoction to prevent him or her from bearing public witness to the truth.

    If, on the other hand, the person is a convicted criminal guilty of a malum in se (something that is actually evil and not merely prohibited), then making contact with such a person is not for the naive.

  • Peter

    Christ is persecuted every day across the world.

    All persecution of religious or ethnic minorities is persecution of Christ, Christians by Muslims, Muslims by Buddhists and Hindus by Muslims, Muslims by Christians etc. All persecution of anyone of any regime who stands up against oppression and injustice is persecution of Christ

    Any kindness shown by anybody to any of these suffering people is kindness shown to Christ himself and can lead to salvation, irrespective of their religion or none.

    It is a misinterpretation of the Gospel, prominent among non-Catholics, to understand the least of my brethren as Christ’s disciples only and excluding wider humanity. That way, of course, one is conveniently relieved of Christ’s command to serve all of our suffering neighbours, and therefore avoids damnation by failing to do so.

  • Peter

    “Works of charity indeed without the grace of the Sacraments are empty works which do not sanctify.”

    Grace is extraordinarily bestowed on the non-Christian who heroically serves Christ’s little one’s – and in doing so unknowingly serves Christ himself – making him or her fit for heaven.

  • Peter

    Jesus says that what we do to the least of these brothers of his, we do to him.

    The least of Christ’s brothers in prison is the one who has the harshest sentence, presumably for committing the greatest crime, the one with no hope of ever getting out or, in some countries, facing execution.

    Of course it’s not easy to do so, and that is why it is meritorious of salvation.

  • Benedict Carter

    Blessed Pius IX teaches us:

    “Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and “judgements of God” which are “a great abyss” (Ps. 35.7) and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic Duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive form the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice.

    “For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, will not be held guilty of this in the eyes of God. Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains ‘we shall see God as He is’ (1 John 3.2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is “one God, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4.5); it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.

    “But, just as the way of charity demands, let us pour forth continual prayers that all nations everywhere may be converted to Christ; and let us be devoted to the common salvation of men in proportion to our strength, ‘for the hand of the Lord is not shortened’ (Isa. 9.1) and the gifts of heavenly grace will not be wanting to those who sincerely wish and ask to be refreshed by this light.”

    - – - – -

    You are not, I believe, far wrong. But don’t be tempted Peter to go too far: it’s not just a question of doing works of mercy. If one does, but lives a bad moral life for instance (it is possible to do both at the same time), the works of charity will not help.

    You must make distinctions, and you make none. This is your weakness.

    The other one is your belief (I don’t know why – perhaps you have “issues” of some kind that you haven’t mentioned here) that to love the Old Mass and to hate the outrageous excesses of the modern Church is to somehow ignore “the poor”, which you equate with some kind of imagined pentecostalist feelings fest: this is not only simply inaccurate, it’s a gross insult.

    A few months ago, before I was nearly killed by a machete and pistol-wielding band of thieves in Kenya (which made me leave the country), I became aware of, and saw with my own eyes, the wonderful work done by the SSPX in that country, opening a school for slum children who otherwise would have had no education.

    Traditionalist Catholics know we have to do works of charity and mercy. But we don’t shout about it, unlike you.

  • Peter

    As I am not a saint or a cleric, I cannot comment on the moral lives of others, however, one would imagine that anyone with a compassionate heart would not be a mass murderer. Never forget that charity covers a multitude of sins.

  • Benedict Carter

    True enough on the “charity is a veil over our sins”. And on that point you have my full agreement.

  • Peter

    “Traditionalist Catholics know we have to do works of charity and mercy. But we don’t shout about it, unlike you.”

    If you look around, I think you’ll find it’s Pope Francis who’s doing the shouting, and very rightly so.

  • scary goat

    Aha ! So you do have a sacramental life as well? Liturgy + charity. So why would you imagine that all the others who take an interest in liturgical matters don’t also have a charitable side? Ever heard of “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”? Why presume that all those other people “paying lip service at the Altar” aren’t doing something charitable as well in their own time?

  • scary goat

    Aha ! So you do have a sacramental life as well? Liturgy + charity. So why would you imagine that all the others who take an interest in liturgical matters don’t also have a charitable side? Ever heard of “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”? Why presume that all those other people “paying lip service at the Altar” aren’t doing something charitable as well in their own time?

  • andHarry

    ‘ That way, of course, one is conveniently relieved of Christ’s command
    to serve all of our suffering neighbours, and therefore avoids damnation
    by failing to do so.’

    Not at all. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourself, and that hardly lets us off the hook. We are adopted into the family of Christ from the family of Satan. It is absurd to claim that Satan’s children (our non-Christian neighbours) are Christ’s brethren. Unless we can persuade them to change/be converted/be born again,they are eternally lost. Indeed for a time Mary and the brothers who accompanied her to put Christ away because they thought He was out of his mind were not yet his spiritual brethren. Mary was only reconciled with Him, and His brethren, at the cross. His other brothers only joined her later.

  • ZuZuLamarr

    People can be prisoners of addiction, of miserable lives, of unbelief, of gangs…
    Not all of us can visit HMP Strangeways or Wormwood Scrubs…

  • 12Maria34

    Dear Peter,

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    In my experience, Catholics who are drawn to the liturgy are the most pro-life and work with a lot of the marginalized (poor, sick, dying, unemployed and etc) but not the other way around. People who just work for the poor, end up putting justice in their hands. The difference is that Catholics who love the mass because they recognized Christ have the grace of recognizing that they see Christ in the other person. People who just work for marginalized without Christ end up doing like Robin Hood. St Francis of Assisi is the best example. He did not work to help the poor just simply because he wanted to help them. He worked for the poor because he saw Christ in each and every person (we are the image and likeness of God).

    A good example in our time are the sisters/nuns. The sisters who worked with the poor that went beyond Jesus (LCWR) and the Sisters of Life who also work with the poor yet very centered on Christ.

    Note that you have to define what is “poor”? We often think poor as material poor. For me, there is only one kind of “poor”. This is what I call “poverty of the soul” because these leads to greed thus, taking away from the other creating inequality, discrimination and unbalance social structure. This also leads to promotion of the culture of death because greed cries for convenience and social acceptance of what is success. The poverty of the soul leads to indifference which does not recognized the humanity & dignity of the other person. Poverty of the soul is devoid of God, devoid of recognizing that the other person is an image and likeness of God, God’s dwelling place, the temple of God. Thus, does not recognize justice, mercy and charity.

    We have also to recognized that we are only instruments of God’s grace. ONLY God can help us. Without God, without the liturgy, we will not be nourish with His grace to do what is good.

    An OMI missionary priest once told me, “if you want to work for the poor be centered on God”. It is in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that we encounter Christ truly is. It is the highest form of our prayer.

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    God bless,

    Maria

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    you people seem stuck in a time warp. move forward not back. lets face it you cannotturn the clock back. One of the best things is having the liturgy in local languages. If not for that the church would have died long ago!

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    no the correct reference if its a bible quote is that LOVE covers a multitude of sins. I have looked high and low in the bible. nowhere does it say – CHARITY covers a multitude of sins. Like you, My parents and grand parents used to say that, and also priests in my church ala 1970s, 1980s but if its a biblical verse its not correct

  • Matthew Holder

    Is Peter perhaps thinking of the parable of the Good Samaritan? It is the priest and the Levite who pass by on the other side.
    Of course there are good priests and good Levites And bad Samaritans. But the parable is the way it is to make a particular point.

  • Peter

    Love is a doing word, and if it is done towards the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters it is meritorious of salvation.

  • scary goat

    Lovely post, Maria, thank you :-)

  • scary goat

    Well, yes, it would seem possibly so, and we all know this parable. But we are more likely to hear it in Church and have the possibility to absorb it and act on it. I don’t think we should be making assumptions about others “paying lip service”. Of course the parable makes a good point, but we are supposed to be asking ourselves these questions, not pointing fingers at others.

  • Matthew Holder

    Perhaps, in his emphasis on charitable service, the Holy Father is humbly “asking himself these questions”, and pointing at himself. He is, afterall, a priest and a Levite, rather than a Samaritan.

  • scary goat

    I would have thought the Pope,as head of the Church and teacher of us all, is reminding us of what we should do. I think Pope Benedict was more of a theory man, and I loved his teachings on “conversion of the heart” and he also spoke about the many “deserts” we now have in life….one of them being poverty. He was also interested in dealing with liturgical abuses. Pope Francis seems to be more “hands on” and trying to give a practical application to the theory which BXVI put into place to prepare our minds. Pope Francis seems to be emphasising poverty, which is one aspect of a bigger picture. Time will tell what other subjects he may focus upon.

    While, of course, I do not disagree that addressing poverty is something we should be concerned with, I am a little concerned that some may be inclined to see this as the be all and end all, forgetting that there are other “deserts” apart from poverty, and that liturgy is also important. The Eucharist is food for our souls…and charitable works proceed from it and are strengthened by it.

    My quibble with Peter is that he seems very absorbed in “the poor” almost to the exclusion of all else. His suggestion that people are “paying lip service” is actually a bit offensive. Some may be, I wouldn’t know, but I don’t think we should be making such assumptions.

  • Matthew Holder

    It does appear that in his homilies, the Pope uses quotations from the Bible, rather than recall Catholic tradition. This is perhaps rather “protestant”, and it appeals to our friend Peter, and to V2 neo-catholics.

  • John McCarthy

    Everyone must have something to offer.

  • Sarah Sun

    Patience, patience brother…you don’t know ‘Peter’ yet..
    Francis has a great heart and to say that he is ‘a victim of the modern Church’ is just premature judgement on your side, – please don’t be grumpy just yet

  • guest

    agreed. people sitting in the sminaries high up in the mountains of switzerland. germany and asutria think in different ways. They must become afflicted with mountain sickness due to the thin air and inability to think correctly or far. They lack vision. Let them be in their cocoon…Why should we take them back. They want to get back and then capture the church from within. Nain. Nain. Nain..

  • lutheran catholic

    doesn’t matter about your labels. Look at mine! What matters is what you have in your heart! Does the faith of jesus Christ reside there

  • Benedict Carter

    We’re talking about “Peter” the poster on these threads, not “Peter” as in the Pope!

  • Benedict Carter

    You are simply mad if you think that. The Sacraments were in which language for 1,800 years? Hmmm?