Service, not power, is the true Christian path, pope says

Pope Francis gives the homily at one of his morning Masses in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. (CNS file/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis gives the homily at one of his morning Masses in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. (CNS file/L’Osservatore Romano)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Those who seek only power and greatness, especially within the church, follow a different path than Jesus, who told his disciples to serve and not to be served, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

Preaching May 17 during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope said Jesus speaks a language of humiliation, death and redemption, while others “speak the language of climbers” who only thinking of rising to the top of the heap.

“The greatest is the one who serves the most, the one who is always at the service of others, not the ones who boast, who seek power, money, vanity and pride,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

The pope focused his homily on the day’s Gospel reading (Mk. 9:30-37), in which the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them.

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all,” Jesus tells them.

The pope said that although the disciples were tempted to think in a worldly way, Jesus teaches them a different path where “service is the rule.”

The search for power, he said, “is a story that happens every day in the church, in every community: ‘Who is the greatest among us?’ ‘Who is in charge?’ Ambitions; in every community — in the parish or in institutions — there is always this desire to climb, to have power,” the pope said.

Those who have the “worldly desire” to seek vanity and power “spare no expense to get there (through) gossip” and destroying other people’s reputations, he said.

“Envy and jealousy make these paths, and they destroy; we all know this. This happens today in every institution of the church: parishes, colleges and other institutions, even among bishops … everyone. It is the desire of the spirit of the world which is a spirit of wealth, vanity and pride,” the pope said.

This worldly spirit, he continued, is a temptation “to destroy the other in order to rise up,” which only “divides and destroys the church.”

“It would do us well to think of the many times we have seen this in the church and the many times that we have done this, and ask the Lord to enlighten us, to understand that love for the world — that is, for this worldly spirit — is the enemy of God,” Pope Francis said.

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