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Pope Francis: Let’s Talk Less and Listen More

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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Daily homily from Santa Marta

VATICAN CITY — Christian pastors and faithful in whom people see authenticity and consistency are those whose minds and hearts are attuned to the Lord, and ready to respond to his word and his love, Pope Francis said in his homily at Holy Mass on Thursday morning in the Chapel of Santa Marta.

Commenting on the day’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 7:21-29), in which the people marvel at Jesus' doctrine and the power and authority with which he taught, in contrast with the scribes, the Pope said that people today know “when a priest, a bishop, a catechist, or a Christian, has the consistency that gives him authority,” adding that Jesus “admonishes his disciples” to beware of “false prophets.”

But how does one discern true preachers of the Gospel from false ones? 

How do they speak, act, and listen?

Pope Francis said there are three things to look for: How do they speak? What do they do? And do they listen? For “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven,” he said, citing the Lord’s words in the Gospel.

“These people speak, they act, but they lack another attitude that is right at the core of speaking and acting: they lack the ability to listen. That is why Jesus said: ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.’ The combination of speaking-doing isn’t enough and can often deceive us. Jesus changes it and says: The combination is listen and do, put it into practice. ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice,’ Jesus said, ‘is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.’

Beware of false prophets

Instead, Pope Francis asserted, those who “hear the words but fail to make them their own … do not listen seriously or fail to put them into practice will be like the one who builds his house on the sand.”

“When Jesus warns people to beware of ‘false prophets,’ he says: ‘By their fruits you shall know them.’ And by their attitude: the speak a lot, they work wonders, they do great things, but they do not have a heart open to hear the Word of God. They are afraid of the silence of the word of God. These are the ‘pseudo-Christians,’ the ‘pseudo-pastors.’ It’s true, they do good things, it’s true, but they lack the rock.”

Worldly pastors and Christians talk too much and listen too little

The Pope continued: “What they lack is the rock of God’s love, the rock of God’s Word.” And without this rock, he warned, “they cannot prophesy, they cannot build: they are pretending, because in the end it all crumbles.”

“These are the pseudo pastors, the worldly pastors, the pastors or also Christians, who talk too much,” the Pope said. “They are afraid of silence;  maybe they do too much. But they aren’t capable of listening, they act on their own words, on their own, not from God.”

“Let us remember these three words: act, listen, speak” the Pope said. “One who only speaks and acts is not a true prophet, not a true Christian, and in the end everything will collapse: because it is not built on the rock of God’s love; it is not as firm as a rock. One who knows how to listen and acts based on what he hears, with the strength of the word of another, not on his own, remains firm. Even though he is a humble person who doesn’t seem important — but how many of these great ones there are in the Church. How many great bishops, how many great priests, how many great faithful who listen and act based on what they’ve heard.”

An example in our own day, the Pope said, is Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who “didn’t  speak, and was able to listen in silence” and “has done so much! Neither she nor her work collapsed,” the Pope added. “The great  ones know how to listen and they act on what they have heard, because their trust and their strength is founded on the rock of the love of Jesus Christ.” 

Pope Francis concluded: “May the weakness of Jesus, who though strong became weak to stregthen us, accompany us in this celebration and teach us to listen, and to act based on what we have heard, not on our own words.”

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