Rivalry and vainglory are two worms that weaken the Church; instead we must act in a spirit of humility and harmony, without seeking our own interests said Pope Francis Monday morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.
Taking a cue from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, the Pope noted that a bishop’s joy lies in seeing love, unity and harmony in his Church. “This harmony – he said – is a grace, which the Holy Spirit creates, but we must do our part, we must do everything to help the Holy Spirit to create this harmony in the Church”. This is why St. Paul calls the Philippians to do nothing “out of selfishness or out of vainglory” or “fight against each other, just to be seen, to give themselves the air of being better than others”. “You see – he noted – this is not just something new to today”, but “goes way back”.
“And how often in our institutions, in the Church, in the parish, for example, in schools, do we find that, no? Rivalry; the need to be seen; vainglory. We see that there are two worms that eat the fabric of the Church, weakening her. Rivalry and vainglory go against this harmony, this agreement. Instead of rivalry and vainglory, what does Paul recommend? ‘Rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves’. He felt this himself. He qualifies himself as ‘not worthy to be called an apostle,’ the least [among others]. He even strongly humbles himself there. This was his sentiment: He thought others were superior to him”.
The Pope then quoted St. Martin de Porres, a “humble Dominican friar,” whom the Church remembers today: “His spirituality was in service, because he felt that all the others, even the greatest sinners, were superior to him. He really felt this”. St. Paul then urges everyone not to look out for his own interests:
“Look for the good of others. Serving others. But this is the joy of a bishop, when he sees his Church like this: the same sentiment, the same charity, being in unanimous accord. This is the air that Jesus wants in the Church. You can have a different opinion, that’s fine, but always within this air, this atmosphere: humility, charity, without despising anyone”.
Referring to the Gospel of the day, Pope Francis added:
“It’s bad, when we find people who seek their own interests not service, not love, in Church institutions, in dioceses, in parishes. And this is what Jesus says in the Gospel: Do not seek your own interests; do not take the road of seeking repayment. ‘Look, I have done this for you, but you have to do this for me’. And, with this parable, of inviting to dinner those who cannot repay you with anything. This is gratuity. When there is harmony in a Church, there is unity, no one seeks his or her own interests, and there is an attitude of gratitude. I do good; I don’t strike a deal with good”.
In conclusion, the Pope invited everyone to examine their conscience, “what is my parish like … my community? Does it have this spirit? What is my institution like? Is this spirit, this sentiment of love, unanimity, concord, without selfishness or vainglory, of humility, is this vision that others are superior to us, in our parish, in our community … and perhaps we will find that there is something to improve. Now, how can I help to improve this?
The principal mission of the Church is evangelization, bringing the Good News to everyone.