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Pope Francis: A Disciple of Jesus Who Doesn’t Serve Others Is Not Christian

AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO
AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO
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Daily homily from Casa Santa Marta

VATICAN CITY — True Christian witness involves a journey, service and giving freely of oneself, Pope Francis said on Thursday in his homily at Holy Mass in the Chapel of Santa Marta. 

The Pope stressed that Jesus’ disciples are called to serve and to proclaim the Gospel freely, and not to be deceived into believing that salvation comes through riches.

In his homily, the Pope drew inspiration from the Gospel passage in which Jesus sends out his disciples to proclaim the Good News. A disciple of the Lord, he said, is called to set out on a journey that isn't a “stroll,” but a mission to proclaim the Gospel and spread the good news of salvation.

Announce the Good News through an inner journey

This, he added, “is the task Jesus gives to his disciples. If a disciple stays still and doesn’t go out, he does not give back to others what he has received in Baptism; he is not a true disciple of Jesus. He lacks missionary zeal; he lacks the ability to go out of himself to bring what is good to others.”

“The journey of the disciple of Jesus is to go out, to herald this good news. But there is another pathway for the disciple of Jesus: the inner journey, the path within, the path of the disciple who seeks the Lord every day, through prayer, in meditation.”

If a disciple does not continuously seek God in this way, the Pope said, the Gospel that he takes to others will be weak, watered down — a Gospel with no strength.

A disciple of Jesus who doesn’t serve others is not Christian

“This dual journey,” the Pope said, “is the double path that Jesus wants from his disciples.” It also requires service, the Pope stressed. “A disciple who does not serve others is not Christian. The disciple has to do what Jesus preached in those two pillars of Christianity: the Beatitudes and the ‘protocol’ on which we shall be judged, Matthew (chapter) 25.” These two pillars, he stressed, correctly “frame” evangelical service.

If a disciple is not journeying to serve, there’s no reason for the journey, Pope Francis added. “If his life is not for service, there is no point in living the Christian life.

One can become boastful and think, “'Yes, I am Christian; I am at peace, I confess, I go to Mass, I fulfill the commandments,’” the Pope cautioned.  But the true disciple is called to service to the other: “Service to Jesus in the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, those with no shirt on their back,” the Pope said. Jesus wants this of us because He is to be found in them: “Service to Christ in others.”

Serve freely and don’t be deceived by riches

Pope Francis then recalled Jesus’ words to His disciples, ‘Freely you have received, freely give.’ “The journey of service is free,” the Pope stressed, “because we have received Salvation for free, pure grace, none of us has bought salvation, none of us has deserved it. It [comes to us through] pure grace of the Father in Jesus Christ, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

“It’s sad when you find Christians who forget this Word of Jesus: ‘Freely you have received, freely give’,” the Pope added. “It’s sad when you find Christian communities — whether it be parishes, religious congregations, dioceses — that forget this ‘gratuity’ because behind this … lies the deception that salvation comes from riches, from human power.”

Pope Francis summed up his homily with these three key words: “Journey, as a sending off  to announce [the Gospel]. Service: the life of a Christian is not for himself; it is for others, as was the life of Jesus.”

Finally, the third word, the Pope noted, is ‘Gratuity’ or ‘Freely.’ “Our hope is in Jesus Christ who gives us a hope that never disappoints.” But, he warned: “When hope is in how comfortable the journey is, or the hope is in a selfish desire to get things for oneself, and not to serve others, or when hope is in riches or in the small securities of this world, all of this collapses. The Lord himself makes it collapse.”

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