Pastors who become princes are far from Jesus' spirit, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Clergy who
use their position for personal gain rather than to help those in need do not follow the spirit of
Jesus who took upon himself the sufferings of others, Pope Francis said.

Jesus often would rebuke such leaders and warned his followers to
“do what they say but not what they do,” the pope said Sept. 14 at
his weekly general audience.

“Jesus was not a prince,” the pope said.
“It is awful for the church when pastors become princes, far from the
people, far from the poorest people. That is not the spirit of Jesus.”

As is customary, before speaking, Pope Francis made his way around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile, greeting
thousands of pilgrims who waved, kissing children presented for a blessing and
even taking repeated sips of the mate tea offered by an Argentine pilgrim.

In his talk, the pope reflected on
Jesus’ tenderness toward the poor, the suffering and the oppressed and his invitation, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will
give you rest.”

In Jesus, he said, “they
finally find the answer they have been waiting for. By becoming his disciples,
they will receive the promise of finding rest for their whole life.”

During a Holy Year, like the
current Year of Mercy, he said, Christians pass through the Holy Door at St.
Peter’s Basilica or in their local diocese as a sign of seeking friendship with
Jesus and of finding “the respite that only Jesus can give.”

“By passing through the Holy
Door, we profess that love is present in the world and that this love is more
powerful than any form of evil in which man and woman, humanity and the world
are involved,” the pope said.

Pope Francis explained that when Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon
you,” he was calling all disciples to follow him and not simply a set of
rules like the scribes and the Pharisees did.

“He wants to teach them that
they will discover the will of God through his person, through Jesus, not
through frigid laws and prescriptions that Jesus himself condemned,” the
pope said.

Christ’s final command in the
Bible passage, “Learn from me,” invites disciples to follow a path of
“knowledge and imitation.”

“Jesus is not a master who
severely imposes burdens
upon others that he does not carry,” the pope said. “This was the
accusation he made against the doctors of the law.”

True followers of Jesus, he added,
take up his yoke in order to receive and welcome the revelation of God’s mercy,
which brings salvation to the poor and the oppressed.

Jesus was “a pastor who was
among the people, among the poor,” Pope Francis said. “He worked
every day with them.”

Lord teaches us to not be afraid to follow him, because we will not be
disillusioned by placing hope in him,” he said. “We are therefore
called to learn from him what it means to live in mercy in order to be
instruments of mercy.”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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