“The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading itself even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation, that is, that we get ahead and climb up, we see it even in the Church”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – For Pope Francis, true greatness lies in service and this is the way in which to live tasks and responsibilities. This is also what Jesus says in today's Gospel (Mk 10:35-45), which the pontiff talked about before the Angelus and in his homily.
During the Mass, Francis consecrated Mgr Guido Marini, as the new bishop of Tortona (Italy), and Mgr Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira as titular archbishop of Tiburnia. The latter was recently named secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.
In his address to the more than 20,000 people present in St Peter's Square for the recitation of the Angelus, Francis spoke of today's Gospel in which “two disciples, James and John, ask the Lord one day to sit beside to him in glory, as if they were ‘prime ministers’, or something like that."
Instead, Jesus spoke to them about the greatness that lies in service. “We are in front of two different types of logic: the disciples want to rise up and Jesus wants to immerse Himself.
“Let us spend a few moments on these two verbs. The first is to rise up. It expresses that worldly mentality to which we are always tempted: to experience everything, including relationships, in order to feed our ambition, to climb the ladder of success, to reach important positions.”
However, “The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading itself even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation, that is, that we get ahead and climb up, we see it even in the Church”.
“We therefore always need to evaluate our heart’s real intentions, to ask ourselves: ‘Why am I carrying out this work, this responsibility? To offer service or rather to be recognised, praised and to receive compliments?’
“Jesus contrasts this worldly logic with his own: instead of exalting yourself over others, get off your pedestal to serve them; instead of rising above others, be immersed in others’ lives”. What matters is “being concerned about others’ hunger, being concerned about others’ needs. There are so, so many in need, and after the pandemic there are many more.”
Francis also spoke to the new bishops about serving.
“You will guard your vocation and you will be authentic pastors in serving, not in honours, authority, power. No, serve, always serve. Proclaim the Word at every occasion: whether it is opportune or not.
“Admonish, rebuke, exhort with magnanimity and doctrine, continue to study. And through prayer and offering sacrifices for your people, draw from the fullness of Christ's holiness the varied riches of divine grace. You shall be the guardians of faith, service, and charity in the Church".
For the pontiff, “the first task of the bishop is to pray – not like a parrot; pray by heart, pray. ‘I don't have time.' No! Drop other things; praying is the bishop’s first task. Closeness to God in prayer. Then [comes the] second closeness, closeness to the other bishops. ‘No, because those are from that party, I am from this party ...’.”
"Be bishops! There will be discussions among you, but as brothers, close. Never talk badly about fellow bishops, never. Closeness to the bishops: second closeness, to the episcopal body. Third closeness, closeness to priests. Please do not forget that priests are your closest fellows.
“How many times do we hear complaints, that a priest says: ‘I called the bishop but the secretary told me that he has a full agenda, that perhaps in thirty days he could receive me ... ‘. This is no good. If you hear that a priest has called you, call him the same day or the next day. Thus, he will know that he has a father. Closeness to the priests, and if they do not come, go to them: Be close.
“The fourth closeness, closeness to the holy faithful people of God. As Paul said to Timothy: Remember your mother, your grandmother (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Do not forget that you have been 'taken from the flock', not by an elite that has studied, that has many titles and is destined to be bishop. No, from the flock.
“Please, do not forget these four forms of closeness: closeness to God in prayer, closeness to the bishops in the episcopal body, closeness to priests and closeness to the flock.”
After the recitation of the Marian prayer, Francis expressed his closeness to the families of the victims of recent attacks in Norway, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom.
“Please, abandon the path of violence,” he said, “which is always a losing strategy” that “generates violence”.