April 21, 2015
To avoid living like pagans, Christians must guard against the temptation of “slipping toward worldliness and power”, Pope Francis has said.
“This is the daily temptation for Christians, for all of us who make up the Church,” the Pope said at his morning Mass today in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guesthouse in the Vatican where he lives.
After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the people in the day’s Gospel account (Jn 6:22-29) seek Jesus not “because of the religious awe that leads one to worship God,” the Pope said, but “for their material interests.”
When one tries to profit from following Jesus — an attitude frequently shown in the Gospels — then one “risks not understanding” and even obscuring the “true mission of Jesus,” said the Pope.
“Many people follow Jesus for their own interests. Even among his apostles: the sons of Zebedee, who wanted to be prime minister and finance minister, sought power.”
He added: “That fervour to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed and to proclaim a year of favour, becomes obscured. It is lost and it is transformed into something of power.”
The Pope said the temptation to exchange religious awe, “which Jesus grants in his encounter with us,” for profit-seeking has always existed.
Such was the nature of the three temptations of Jesus in the desert, said the Pope: the temptation of food or material goods, spectacle or power, and apostasy or “the adoration of idols.”
The Pope also warned that “religious comfort” leads to worldliness, and when this comfort grows, it becomes “that attitude that Jesus calls hypocrisy.”
The result is that “we become Christians in name, in exterior attitudes, but the heart is invested in interests,” the Pope said. The consequence of such attitudes is that the faith, the mission and the Church “are weakened,” he said.
However, God “wakes up” Christians with the witness of the saints and the martyrs, “who daily proclaim to us that the path of Jesus to follow is that of his mission: to proclaim the year of favour,” he added.