Pope: whoever wants to be the first, in the Church too, must be the servant of all
“Who is the most important in the Church?” asks Francis. “The Pope, the bishops, the monsignors, the cardinals, the parish priests of the most beautiful parish churches, the presidents of lay associations? No! The greatest in the Church are those who become servants of all, those who serve all, not those with more titles.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, he took inspiration from the Gospel of Mark (9:30-37) in which Jesus told the disciples that if one wants to be the first, one has to be last and servant of all. The same goes today for the Church since the desire to be the most important stems from the spirit of the world, of envy, and the devil is most envious creature of all.
Jesus, the Pope explained, was conscious that the disciples had argued among themselves about who was the greatest in terms of “ambition”. A squabble about who must go ahead and who must go up reflects the spirit of the world. The First Reading (James 4:1-10) follows this line of thought when James the Apostle notes that love of the world is an enemy of God.
"The desire of worldliness, the desire to be more important than others and say ‘No! I deserve it; the other one doesn’t’ is worldliness; it is the spirit of the world and whoever breathes in this spirit breathes in enmity for God. Jesus, in another passage, told the disciples: ‘Whoever is not with me is against me.’ There are no compromises in the Gospel. When one wishes to live the Gospel whilst making compromises, one ultimately ends up with the worldly spirit, which always seeks compromises to climb further, to dominate, to be greater.”
Worldly desires and passions are behind so many wars and quarrels, the pontiff noted, taking his cue from the words of Saint James. “[T]oday the whole world is full of wars, but are the wars between us? Like the one between apostles. Who is the most important? ’Look at my career: I can't go back now!’ This is the spirit of the world, unchristian. 'No! It's my turn! I have to earn more, to have more money and more power.’ This is the spirit of the world.”
To this one must add “the wickedness of chatter, of gossip. Where does it come from? From envy. The devil is envy incarnate. We know this; the Bible says so. From envy. Evil enters the world by way of the devil's envy. Envy is a worm that drives people to destroy, to badmouth, to annihilate others.”
All such passions could be seen in what the Disciples said to each other. For this reason, Jesus scolded them and urged them to become servants to all and take the last place.
“Who is the most important in the Church? The Pope, the bishops, the monsignors, the cardinals, the parish priests of the most beautiful parish churches, the presidents of lay associations? No! The greatest in the Church are those who become servants of all, those who serve all, not those with more titles.”
“To make this point clear, he took a child, placed him in their midst and, tenderly embraced him – Jesus spoke with tenderness, he had so much of it – and told them: ‘whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me’. Whoever welcomes the humblest , the most servant that is the way. There is only one road against the spirit of the world: humility. Serve others, choose the last place, do not climb.”
Francis ended his homily saying that one should not “negotiate with the spirit of the world;” one should not say: "I have the right to this place; look at the career I have had.” In reality, worldliness "is God’s enemy”. Instead, one must heed Jesus’s wise and encouraging words in the Gospel: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”