By Linda Bordoni
Urging believers never to feel superior, Pope Francis said that in order to make a breach in people’s hearts and invite them to conversion, we must be meek and humble, following in the footsteps of Christ.
He was speaking during the homily at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the Gospel reading of the day.
It tells, he said, of how Jesus sends his disciples into the world to bring healing, just as He Himself came into the world to heal, the Pope noted, “to heal the root of sin in us”, “the original sin”.
Healing, the Pope said, is a bit like “creating from anew”:
“Jesus recreated us from the root and then allowed us to move forward with his teaching, with his doctrine, a doctrine that heals” he said.
But, the first requisite is that there be conversion.
“Conversion is the first step of healing in the sense that it opens the heart so that the Word of God may enter” he said.
The Pope compared it to seeking to be cured from a medical doctor saying that “if someone is sick and refuses to go to the doctor he will not be healed”.
He also noted that, as Christians, we may do many good things, but if our hearts our closed, it’s only a façade.
The shepherd must not seek the milk or the wool of the sheep
Pope Francis then went on to say that in order “to proclaim so that people may convert, one requires authority” that comes from being like Jesus.
In the Gospel, he said, Jesus instructs the Apostles to “to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts”. In essence, he noted: poverty.
The apostle must be a pastor, he said, “who does not seek sheep's milk, who does not seek sheep's wool" referring to the concept as expressed by Saint Augustine explained that “the shepherd who seeks milk seeks money, and the shepherd who seeks wool likes to dress with vanity”.
Inviting Christians to follow a path of “poverty, humility, meekness” he noted that Jesus told the Apostles “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet”, but do so with meekness and humility.
“If an apostle, an envoy, one of us goes, with his nose in the air, believing himself superior to the others or because of self-interest looking for some human interest (…) he will never heal anyone, he will never succeed in opening anyone's heart, because his word will have no authority” he said.
Authority comes from being interested in people
After having exhorted to conversion, the “Twelve drove out many demons” and they could do so because they had the authority, the Pope said, to say “This is a demon! This is a sin.”
This authority, he said, is not the authority of someone who speaks down to people, but of someone who is interested in people.
“Demons flee before humility, before the power of Christ’s name with which the apostle carries out his mission” the Pope said, because demons “cannot bear that sins be healed”.
We can all bring healing with a good word and patience
Then, the Pope said, the Apostles also “anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” The anointing, he explained, “is the caress of God,” so all apostles must learn “this wisdom of God’s caresses”.
He pointing out that all Christians can bring healing, not only priests and bishops: “each of us has the power to heal his brother or sister.”
Pope Francis concluded saying “We all need to be healed, and we can all heal others if we are humble and meek: with a good word, with patience, with a glance”.