This was the subject of reflection for the Holy Father during his homily today at Casa Santa Marta.
Today’s Gospel from St. John recalled a group of people who were searching for Jesus after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled,” Jesus said to the people when they found Him.
The Pope said that the Gospel calls us to reflect on whether we are following the Lord out of love or personal gain. “We are all sinners, and we need to make an effort and look into ourselves in the way we live our Faith,” he said. The Holy Father highlighted three particular attitudes that one must avoid in order to follow God,the first of which is vanity.
“This is not the right attitude. Vanity is not good, vanity causes us to slip on our pride and everything ends there. So I ask myself the question: and I? How do I follow Jesus? When I do good, do I do it under the public eye, or do I do it in private?”
“I also think of pastors, because a pastor who is vain does not do good to the people of God: even if he is a priest or a bishop, he does not follow Jesus if he is besotted by vanity”.
The second attitude that one must avoid is a thirst for power. The 77 year old Pontiff told those present that there are some who follow Jesus and are in a search of power. Some, perhaps, even do so unknowingly.
“A clear example of this is to be found in John and James, the sons of Zebedee who asked Jesus to seat them in places of honour, one on His right and one on His left in his Kingdom,” the Pope explained.
“And in the Church there are climbers, people driven by ambition! There are many of them! But if you like climbing, go to the mountains and climb them: it is healthier! Do not come to Church to climb! And Jesus scolds people with this kind of ambitious attitude in the Church.”
The Holy Father noted that the disciples attitude changed only when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. However, he went on to say, they must continually ask themselves: in what way do they follow Christ?
The final attitude that must be avoided is the lust for wealth or money. Some today, he said, follow Jesus yet try “to take economic advantage of the parish, of the diocese, of their Christian community, of the hospital, or the college.”
“Let us think of the first Christian community that was swayed by this intention: Simon, Ananias and Sapphira… this has been a temptation right from the beginning,” he said.
“And since, we have heard of so many good Catholics, good Christians, friends and benefactors of the Church that – it has been revealed - acted for personal profit. They presented themselves as benefactors of the Church and made money on the side…”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask God for the grace to follow Christ with good intentions and not with those three attitudes that stray from the path to Him.