It is sad to see a Christian who wants both Jesus and worldly gain. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.
According to Vatican Radio, the Holy Father reflected on today’s Gospel from St. Mark, in which Peter says to Jesus that he and the disciples “have given up everything and followed you.”
Regarding Christ’s response, the Pope noted that He did not respond with promises of wealth, but rather of an inheritance that, however, comes “with persecution.”
A Christian who is attached to material goods, he said, “gives a bad impression of a Christian who wants to have two things: heaven and earth.”
“And the touchstone, precisely, is what Jesus says: the cross, persecution. This means to deny one’s self, to endure the cross every day,” he said. “The disciples had this temptation, to follow Jesus but then what will be the end of this good business? We think of the mother of James and John, when she asked Jesus for a place for her sons: ‘Ah, this one he will make his Prime Minister, this one the Finance Minister…,’ and took a worldly interest in following Jesus.”
The Jesuit Pope went on to say that the heart of the disciples was slowly purified from this worldliness until Pentecost, where they understood that the love and salvation given to them freely must also be freely given by them.
“When you want to go both with Jesus and the world, with both poverty and wealth, this is a ‘half-way’ Christianity that wants material gain. It is the spirit of worldliness,” the Pope said.
Taking the Last Place
Pope Francis continued his homily, saying that only through serving others can one truly follow Jesus. If one is given the opportunity of being first, he explained, he “should act like the last in service.”
“And if the Lord gives you the opportunity to have goods, you should act in service, that is, for the others,” he said. “There are three things, three steps that take us away from Jesus: riches, vanity and believing you are important. And if you believe you are important, it goes to your heard and you are lost.”
The 78 year old Pontiff called on the faithful to pray in order to understand well this path: the science of service, humility, and “of being the last one to serve the brothers and sisters in the Church.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis warned the faithful of the “counter-witness” that draws people away from Christ.
“It is sad to see a Christian, whether a layperson, consecrated, priest, bishop; it is sad when you can see that they want two things: to follow Jesus and [material] goods, to follow Jesus and worldliness,” he said.
“Let us continue now this celebration of the Eucharist, thinking on Peter’s question. ‘We have left everything: how will you pay us?’, and thinking on Jesus’ answer. The price that He will give us is the resemblance to Him. This will be the ‘payment’. A great ‘payment: that we resemble Jesus!”