Stay Rooted in Reality, Pope Urges Disciples

Says That We Have to Speak to People’s Hearts, Experience Their Tears and Joys, Just as Jesus Did

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Does Jesus care about the traffic? Drawing from the Pope’s homily today in Florence, we could say that indeed he does, since he cares about our daily, concrete lives, so much so that he became one of us.

A follower of Jesus, just as the pastors of Christ’s flock, must be ready to “touch” people’s daily experiences: work, family, traffic, school — the daily reality we live — because this is the way to speak to people’s hearts and it brings us the joy of sharing the faith.

The Pope said this today during his homily at a Mass he celebrated in Florence, Italy, where he went for a one-day trip to participate in the National Congress of the Church in Italy.

The homily drew from the Gospel passage wherein Christ asks “Who do people say I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?”

The first question shows “how much Jesus’ heart and look are open to all,” Francis said. “Jesus wants to know what the people think, not to content them but to communicate with them.”

In the same vein as his famous exhortation that a pastor must have the “odor of his sheep,” today the Pope said that “without knowing what people think, a disciple is isolated and begins to judge the people according to his own thoughts and his own convictions.”

“The only way to be able to help, form and communicate with them is to maintain a healthy contact with the reality, with what the people live, with their tears and their joys. It is the only way to speak to people’s hearts, touching their daily experiences: work, family, health problems, traffic, school, health services. It is the only way to open their hearts to listen to God. 

“In reality, when God wanted to speak with us He incarnated Himself. Jesus’ disciples must never forget from where they were chosen, that is, from among the people, and they must never fall into the temptation to assume detached attitudes, as if what the people think and live does not concern them and is not important for them.”


The Holy Father said that the fact of being gathered to celebrate Mass in a sports stadium reminds us of this lesson: “Like Jesus, the Church lives in the midst of the people and for the people,” he said. 

“Therefore, in her whole history the Church has always borne in herself the same question: who is Jesus for the men and women of today?”

Drawing from the example of Pope St. Leo, whose feast is today, Pope Francis said that “our joy is to share this faith and to respond together to the Lord Jesus [as Peter did]: ‘For us you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

“Our joy is also to go against the current and to surmount the current opinion that today, as then, is unable to see in Jesus more than a prophet or a teacher. Our joy is to recognize in him the presence of God, the One sent by the Father, the Son who came to make Himself instrument of salvation for humanity. This profession of faith that Simon Peter proclaimed remains also for us. It does not only represent the foundation of our salvation, but also the way through which it is accomplished and the end to which it tends.”

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Kathleen Naab

United States

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