Profits or Prophets?

Rare is the week when Pope Francis does not say or do something that “sharpens the point” of the Gospel.  This week was no exception.  From Luke {17:5-10} we hear, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”

In this week when the “Council of Eight” Cardinals gathered together for the first time, Pope Francis spoke about the dangers of “narcissism.”  He described the role of the Curia as managing the works of the Church– and went on to say that it has “one defect — it is Vatican-centric” and often “neglects the world around us.”   He warned against Church leaders who yearn for the “flattery of their courtiers” instead of concentrating on the wider mission of the Church.  He said that the papal court is the “leprosy of the papacy.”

In speaking of clericalism, he said, “It happens to me when I meet a clericalist.  I suddenly become anti-clerical.  Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity.”

Can the message be any clearer?  Take your eyes off yourself and your needs and focus on others!  Do not live for the praise of others, but for service to others!

Pope Francis went on to speak of two examples of where our focus needs to be:  young people who are unemployed and older people who are lonely.  He said, “young people need work and hope.  Older people need care and company.”  In other words, “want something to do?  need an idea of what should be done?  How about helping young people be ready for work — teach them how to manage money, teach them how to dress for success, teach them how to prepare a resume and to get ready for a job interview.  Teach young people that “chump change is better than no change, i.e. start small and grow to big.”

Feel bored?  Go to the nursing home!  Need someone to make you feel good — go visit your old aunt/uncle.  Focusing on your aches and pains — spend time with those unable to get out of bed and who go nowhere without a walker or wheelchair.

   This FOCUS ON CHRISTIAN-DUTY, this EYE ON THE WORLD is the stuff [humus] where the “seed of powerful-faith” grows.  The faith that empowers us to live well and to make a difference, takes root in a person [life] with eyes turned outward rather than inward.  Want that faith strong enough to move mountains?  Grow that faith in a humble heart ready to serve!

After all, aren’t we mere servants?

A nugget of wisdom from my father:  People wrapped up in themselves make a very small package [gift].    So, if our Church really wants to be a “gift to the world” it better package itself as a servant of people, a place of welcome, and place of healing.  A focus on what we wear or what others wear …. a focus on how one “folds” their hands in prayer [finger tips pointing to heaven??!!], when we think people should give money [tithe] out of biblical obligation —– instead of being among, with, and FOR PEOPLE — we are a pretty small gift.

This is not the time to PLAY CHURCH — this is the time to say, “ok, what is my work for today …. what is my assignment? …. who needs help today?

Look at this weekend’s second scripture reading …. 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14.

> Stir into flame the gift of God you have through imposition of my hands.  ALL WHO HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED have experienced the imposition of hands!  All who have been confirmed have experienced the imposition of hands …. and yes, those who have been ordained deacon or priest have experienced the imposition of hands ….. but not the ordained alone …. all the baptized.

>  God did not give us a spirit of cowardice  ….. or a spirit of selfishness.

>  Rather, we have a spirit of power, love, and self-control.

> Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within.  — Guard it, not like in a vault — but with care that will not allow anyone to take it from us or to USE IT WITHOUT our awareness.

Many people seem to  be pleased that Pope Francis is shaking things up …. that he is unsettling the comfortable.  Let us not be mistaken, however, into thinking that it is only “those other people” who need shaking up.  Maybe it is the man/woman in the mirror to whom he speaks this day.




About thegospelforliving

Retired Catholic Priest - now serving the community as a paralegal and charter school consultant.
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