By Cindy Wooden
Following Jesus isn’t complicated, but it may take courage and it always requires recognizing that human beings aren’t God, Pope Francis said in two of his morning Mass homilies.
The pope celebrated Mass April 20 with volunteers who work at a Vatican pediatric clinic for immigrants and for the poor, and April 22 with the staff of the Vatican press office. Both Masses were held in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope lives.
“Sometimes we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord,” the pope said during the April 22 Mass, according to Vatican Radio.
In the day’s Gospel reading (Jn 10:1-10), Jesus describes himself as the “gate for the sheep” and talks about thieves and robbers who try to climb over or under the fence to get into the sheepfold.
Pope Francis said there is a constant temptation to “find other gates or windows for entering into the kingdom of God, but one can enter only through that gate called Jesus.”
Even within the Christian community, he said, there are “climbers,” who want to give themselves glory or choose a path to happiness that isn’t Christ.
“Some of you may say: ‘Father, you’re a fundamentalist!’ No, simply put, this is what Jesus said,” the pope told the congregation. Jesus is “a beautiful gate, a gate of love, a gate that does not deceive, is not false. He always tells the truth, but with tenderness and love.”
The way to show that you have entered the fold through Christ, he said, is to be living examples of the beatitudes — “be poor, be meek, be just” — and “do what Matthew 25 says” by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting prisoners.
Pope Francis asked the press office employees to join him in asking God for the grace to remember always to knock at the door that is Christ.
“Sometimes it’s closed — we’re sad, we feel desolation, we have trouble knocking,” he said. “Do not go looking for other doors that seem easier, more comfortable, closer.”
“Jesus never disappoints,” the pope said. “Jesus never deceives.”
Two days earlier, celebrating Mass with the pediatric clinic volunteers, Pope Francis spoke about “lukewarm Christians,” who — consciously or not — try to build a church to their own liking, demanding it measure up to their expectations rather than trying to live up to its expectations.
The Acts of the Apostles (9: 31) describes the early Christian community as walking “in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit,” which Pope Francis said means living with a sense of God’s presence and in adoration of the Lord.
“When we are in the presence of God, we do not do bad things or make bad decisions. We are in God’s sight with joy and happiness,” he said. “This is the security of the Holy Spirit, that is the gift that the Lord has given us — this comfort — that keeps us going.”
The New Testament also talks about those who knew Jesus, followed him a bit and even admired him, but decided that what he was asking was just too much. They probably said to themselves, “We have good sense, don’t we?” the pope said.
“Good-sense Christians” keep their distance, he said. They become “Christian satellites” orbiting around the church, but not part of it, not committed to growing in their faith or helping the church grow.
“Let us pray for the church, that it will continue to grow, unite, walk in the fear of God and with the security of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “May the Lord deliver us from the temptation of that so-called ‘common sense,’ and from the temptation to grumble against Jesus because he is too demanding.” – CNS