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Are you sure you don’t feel you’re better than the rest? Pope Francis invites us to think

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Pope notes the haughtiness that creeps even into the Apostles, feeling that they are not part of ‘those others,’ ‘the crowd’

The mass of March 28 was the 20th live-streamed Mass celebrated by Pope Francis; prior to the lockdown the Holy Father’s Masses were not broadcast.

The intention of this Mass was for those who are beginning to feel the consequences of the pandemic beyond the actual virus:

In these days, in certain parts of the world, we’ve seen various consequences of the pandemic. One of them is hunger. We are starting to see people who are hungry because they can’t work, they don’t have a stable job, and because of many other circumstances. We are already starting to see the “afterward” that will come later, but that is already beginning now. Let us pray for the families that are starting to feel neediness because of the pandemic.

The pope then turned to the daily readings.

“Then each went to his own house” — Francis used this last line of the Gospel of the day to reflect on the tendency to think oneself better than the others.

There are two groups of people. The people who love Jesus and follow him, and the group of intellectuals of the Law, the leaders of Israel, the leaders of the people. … The group of doctors of the Law, the elite, feel disdain for Jesus. But they also disdain the people, “this crowd,” that’s ignorant, that doesn’t know anything. … They had a great defect: they had lost their memory of belonging to a people.

The pope warned that even the apostles can fall into this haughtiness, and he pointed to the day that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. The apostles had asked him, “Send them away so they can get something to eat.”

“Even the apostles distances themselves. They didn’t consider them. They didn’t disdain them, but they didn’t consider the people of God.”

And Jesus responded, “You give them something to eat. [Jesus] returns them to the people.”

The Holy Father said this haughtiness or sense of being elite is “clericalism” that already existed and comes even from Old Testament times. He lamented that in  the last few days, he has heard people complaining about nuns and priests who are getting food for the poor. “But they can get Coronavirus! Tell the Mother Superior not to let the nuns leave, tell the bishop not to let the priests leave. They are for the sacraments. Feeding people? Leave the government to provide.”

This is said today, the pope explained. “The same argument. They are second class people, we are the class of leaders. We shouldn’t dirty our hands with the poor.”

Francis said that priests and nuns who are afraid of serving the poor, while being good people, “lack something. The same thing these people, these doctors of the law lacked. They’ve lost their memory … that they were part of a people. They have lost their memory of what God said to David, ‘I took you from the flock.’ They have lost their memory of being part of the flock.”

The pope contrasted these “elites” with “so many men and women … so many priests who do not separate themselves from the people.”

The day before yesterday, I received a photograph of a priest, a parish priest from the mountains, with many small villages, in a place where it snows. And in the snow, he carried a monstrance to the small towns to give benediction. He didn’t care about the snow, he didn’t care about the burn of the cold that he felt in his hands grasping the metal of the monstrance. He only cared about bringing Jesus to the people.

“Let us think, each one of us, which side we’re on,” the Holy Father invited. “And perhaps the counsel that Paul gave to his disciple, the young bishop Timothy, would serve all of us: ‘Remember your mother and your grandmother’ (cf 2 Tim 1:5). Remember your mother and your grandmother.’ If Paul gave this advice, it was because he well knew the danger that this feeling of eliteness leads to in our leadership.”

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