Too often power, money, and vanity are pursued in the Church. Pope Francis has made this accusation today, during the morning Mass at St. Martha’s House. The Pope has commented on the Gospel passage in which Jesus teaches his disciples the way of service, but they are wondering who is the greatest of them all, focusing on worldly temptations that still ruin the testimony of the Church today. “Jesus – the Pope has said – speaks the language of humiliation, death, redemption, whereas they speak a climbers’ language: who will get higher in power?” This, he said, is “a temptation that possessed them”; they were “tempted by the way of thinking of the mundane world.”
The disciples want to first place, but Jesus tells them to be the last, “everyone’s servant”: “On the path Jesus tells us to follow, service is the rule. The greatest is the one who serves, one that is in the service of the others, not the one who boasts, and seeks power and money… vanity, pride… No, these people are not great. That is what happened to the apostles in this case, even to John’s and James’ mother. This story happens every day in the Church and in every community. ‘Who is the greatest among us? Who commands? ‘Ambitions. In every community – in parishes or institutions – there is always this desire to climb and have power.”
The Pope warns “against passion for power, envy, jealousy that destroy the other,” commenting on the First Reading, which puts forward a passage from the Epistle of James. “Jesus claimed he came into this world to serve, not to be served. Vanity, power… When I desire to be with worldly power, not to serve but to be served, people are make all sorts of things: gossiping, dirtying the others… Envy and jealousy pave this way and destroy. Everyone knows it. This is what happens today in every institution of the Church: parishes, schools, other institutions, even in bishoprics… everyone. Desire for the spirit of the world, which is the spirit of wealth, vanity and pride.”
“Two different ways of speaking”, Francis notes, Jesus teaches the service and the disciples argue about who is the greatest among them. “Jesus – he insists – came to serve and taught us the way in Christian life: service, humbleness.” “When great saints said they felt sinners – he points out -, they did so because they understood that spirit of the world, which was inside of them; they had so many worldly temptations.” “None of us – he warns – can say: no, I am a holy and clean person “because” all of us are tempted by these things, we are tempted to destroy the other to climb up. It is a worldly temptation, but it divides and destroys the Church, it is not the Spirit of Jesus. It is beautiful, let us imagine the scene: Jesus saying these words and the disciples who say ‘no, we’d better not ask too many questions, let’s move on’, preferring to discuss among themselves who of them will become the greatest”.
“It will be good for us – the Pontiff encourages the faithful – to think of the many times when we have seen this in the Church and the many times when we have done this ourselves, and ask the Lord to enlighten us, so we can understand that love for the world, that is, for this worldly spirit, it is the enemy of God.”