According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this warning and encouragement to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on today’s First Reading (Sirach 2:1-11), which recalls that whoever wishes to serve the Lord must prepare for temptations, and the Gospel reading (Mark 9:30-37), in which Jesus tells his disciples of his impending death.
Recognizing temptation affects all people, Francis prayed that before the temptation of ambition, God gives us the grace of ‘holy shame.’ Recalling that the disciples do not understand why Jesus has told them of His coming death since they are too afraid to ask what he means demonstrates “the temptation to not complete the mission,” the Pope noted. Even Jesus, he added, suffered this temptation.
Warning Against Ambition, Worldliness
Today’s Gospel, the Jesuit Pope also recalled, also mentioned another temptation, that of ambition. The disciples argue along the way about who among them was the greatest, but remain silent when Jesus asks them what they are discussing. The Holy Father said they do not respond because they are ashamed of their words. “These were good people, who wanted to follow and serve the Lord. But they did not realize that the path of service to the Lord was not an easy one. It wasn’t like becoming part of a group, some charitable group doing good: No, it was something else. They were afraid of this. It happened, happens, and will happen.”
“Let us think about infighting in a parish (or community): ‘I want to be the president of this association, in order to climb the ladder. Who is the greatest here? Who is the greatest in this parish? No, I am the most important here; not that person there because he did something…’ This, Francis said, is the chain of sin.
The Holy Father also offered other examples of this temptation which brings one to “climb the ladder” and criticize others. “Sometimes we priests say ashamedly within our presbyteries: ‘I want that parish… But the Lord is here… But I want that one…’ It is the same.” This, Francis warned, is not the way of the Lord, but the path of worldliness and vanity. “Even among us bishops,” Francis lamented, worldliness comes as a temptation.
Pope Francis concluded, praying for three things: for “the grace to be ashamed when we find ourselves in these situations”; to defend us “from ambitions and from the worldliness of wishing to be greater than others”; and to give us the grace of the simplicity of a child.
Source: Zenit, February 21, 2017. https://mg.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.rand=2o553135m9ma1#7126487293
Reflection and Discussion Sharing Guide:
1. Reflect and share on what the Lord is saying to you through these comments of Pope Francis.
2. How can you put into life practice the Pope’s admonitions to watch out for worldliness and ambition and to have a childlike simplicity?