“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Those were the words of Jesus to his disciples, recalled in the 9th chapter of Mark, was at the core of the homily Pope Francis delivered February 25, 2020, during Mass at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.
That words of Jesus quieted the disciples’ debate about “who is the greatest” – and the Pope suggested there is a message there for all of us.
“This anxiety of worldliness, this concern to be more important than others, saying, ‘No! I deserve this, that person doesn’t deserve it’: this is worldliness, this is the spirit of the world, and those who breathe in this spirit, breathe in the enmity of God.,” Pope Francis explained. “Jesus, in another passage, says to the disciples, “Either you are with me or you are against me”. There are no compromises in the Gospel. And when someone wants to live the Gospel while making compromises, they ultimately find themselves with the worldly spirit, which always seeks to make compromises in order to climb higher, to dominate, to be greater.”
The Holy Father warned of the dangers of envy and a desire for power. Being “infected with worldliness” can lead to terrible actions, even war.
“This is the spirit of the world, and this is not Christian. [They say] ‘No! It’s my turn! I have to earn more to get more money and more power’, the Pope said. “This is the spirit of the world. And then, [there’s] the wickedness of chatter: gossip. Where does it come from? From envy. The great envious one is the devil, we know that, it says so in the Bible. [It comes] from envy. Through the devil’s envy evil enters into the world. Envy is a worm that pushes you to destroy, to bad-mouth others, to annihilate others.”
The Holy Father concluded his homily by stressing that those of most important in the Church are those who serve:
“Who is the most important in the Church? The Pope, the bishops, the monsignors, the cardinals, the pastors of the most beautiful parishes, the presidents of lay associations? No! The greatest in the Church are those who make themselves servants of all, those who serve everyone, not those who have titles. And to help us understand this, He took a child and placed him in their midst; and embracing him with tenderness – because Jesus spoke with tenderness, He had so much of it – He said to them: “Whoever receives a child, receives Me”. That is, whoever welcomes the most humble, the one who serves the most. This is the path. There is only one path against the spirit of the world: humility. Serving others, choosing the last place, not climbing the ladder.”