Pope to bishops: Think of others more that your own needs

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Pope to bishops: Think of others more that your own needs

By Domenico Agasso jr

During the mass for deceased cardinals and bishops, Francis said: “those who do not live to serve have no reason to be alive”; may we “be free from the anxieties of the ephemeral, which pass and vanish”.

Francis’ first public appearance since the “Vatileaks 2” scandal broke out, was at the mass for cardinals and bishops who dies in the last year. The scandal led to the arrest of Mgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, former Secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs who now holds the same role in the Vatican audit office and Italian PR woman Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (who was released). In the homily he pronounced in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, the Pope invited those present to ask “for us what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do: ‘to turn our thoughts to what is on high, not to earthly things”; to think of the love of God and of others, more than our own needs”. He also said: “those who do not live to serve, have no reason to be alive”.

“Today we remember our brother cardinals and bishops who died in the past year. On this earth, they loved the Church, their bride and we pray that in God they may enjoy full joy, in the communion of saints,” he began by saying. 12 cardinals and 99 archbishops and bishops died between 26 October 2014 and 26 October 2015; Patriarch Nerses Bedro XIX (Lebanon – Cilicia of the Armenians) has been added to the list. 112 in total, according to Italian Catholic news blog Il Sismografo.

The Pope invited those present to remember “the vocation of these Ministers with gratitude: as the word itself indicates, their vocation was to minister, to serve in other words”; and as we ask for the reward promised to “good and faithful servants” to be granted to them, we are called upon to confirm our choice of serving in the Church”. Because “the lord asks this of us. Like a servant, he washed the feet of the disciples closest to him, so that we would follow His example. God,” he clarified, “served us first”. Thus, Jesus’ minister “who came to serve, not to be served, cannot but be a Shepherd who is ready to give his life for his sheep. Those who serve and give are seen as losers in the eyes of the world,” he observed. “In actual fact, it is by losing his life that he finds it once again. Because a life that dispossesses itself, losing itself in love, imitating Christ, overcomes death and gives life to the world. Those who serve, save. On the contrary, those who do not live to serve, have no reason to be alive”.

The Gospel shows us that “God loved the world a great deal,” as Jesus says. Francis pointed out that this “really is a concrete love, so concrete, that it took our death upon itself. In order to save us, it reached us at the point at which we ended up, steering us away from God, the giver of life: in death, in a tomb from which there is no way out. This is how the Son of God lowered himself, bending down to us as a servant to assume everything that is ours, opening wide for us the doors of life”.

The Son of God is compared to the “serpent on a pole”. The image refers to the biblical episode in which poisonous serpents attacked Israelites on their journeys through the desert. Those who were bitten by the serpents escaped death if they looked at the bronze serpent which Moses had fixed to a pole as God had ordered. “A serpent saved them from the serpents. The same logic applies to the cross, which Christ refers to speaking with Nicodemus. His death saves us from our death.”

Pope Francis highlighted that “snakes in the desert caused a painful death preceded by fear and a venomous bite, death also appears dark and agonizing to us”; “the Scriptures tells us it entered the world due to the devil’s envy”. However, instead of avoiding it, Jesus took it fully upon himself, with all its contradictions”; and “now we, looking at Him, believing in Him, are saved by Him: ‘those who believe in God's Son has eternal life,’ Jesus says twice in today’s brief Gospel passage.”

According to Francis, God’s style, “which saves us by serving and annihilating himself, has a lot to teach us”. “We might expect a triumphant divine victory, Jesus shows us a humble one instead. Raised on the Cross, he allows death and evil to assail him while he continues to love.” It is hard for human beings to accept this reality: “It is a mystery, but the secret of this mystery, of this extraordinary humility, lies in the power of love. In the Passover of Jesus we see together death and the remedy for death, and this is possible because of the great love with which God has loved us, because of the humble love with which he lowered himself, because of the service which knows how to assume the condition of the servant.” But that is not all, “Jesus not only overcame death,” he “transformed it into something good. He did not change things with words but with actions; not the appearance of things but their substance; not on the surface but at the core. He turned the cross into a bridge that leads to life.”

The important thing for women and men is that “we too can be winners with Him, if we choose a humble love that serves, that remains victorious for eternity. It is a love that is not loud or imposing but is able to wait with faith and patience, because – as the Book of Lamentations reminds us – it is good ‘to wait silently for the salvation of the Lord’.”

“God so loved the world,” Francis underlined. “We are used to loving what we are in need of and what we desire. God, on the other hand, loves to the end of the world and beyond, he loves us just as we are.”

The Pope concluded with an exhortation: “As we offer this mass for our dear brothers, cardinals and bishops, ask for us what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do: ‘to turn our thoughts to what is on high, not to earthly things”; to think of the love of God and of others, more than our own needs. That we must not be concerned with what we lack on this earth, but with the treasure on high; not with what we need but with what is really needed. May the Passover of the Lord be enough in our lives, enough to be free from the anxieties of the ephemeral, which pass and vanish into thin air; may he be sufficient for us in whom is found life, salvation, resurrection and joy. Then we will be servants according to his heart: not employed officials, but beloved children who give their lives for the world.”

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 09:44
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