Pope at Chrism Mass: Priests must fix eyes on Jesus, cast aside hidden idols
By Christopher Wells
Being a priest is a very great grace, Pope Francis told priests on Holy Thursday, while reminding them it is a grace that is primarily for the good of the Christian faithful rather than for priests themselves.
“Our people deserve and need” to be served by priests with clear consciences, the Pope said, inviting the gathered clergy to be faithful to God, by allowing themselves to be loved and forgiven by Him.
Fixing our gaze on Jesus
In his homily at the Chrism Mass, on Thursday morning, the Pope focused on a verse from St Luke’s Gospel, “The eyes of all were upon Jesus.”
When Jesus comes again at the end of time, Pope Francis said, all eyes will be drawn to the crucified and risen Lord, leading us to acknowledge and worship Him. We will recognize him, the Pope said, and will recognize ourselves as we really are.
Yet even today, Pope Francis said, priests must cultivate the grace of fixing their gaze on Christ, thanking God for the graces He gives, but also “showing Him” the temptations we face so that we might overcome them.
Recognizing hidden idols
Pope Francis warned priests of three “hidden idols” that can weaken priestly vocations, and open hearts to “the Evil One.”
The first, spiritual worldliness, is a culture of what is passing, and is manifested in triumphalism “without the Cross.” A worldly priest, the Pope said, “is nothing more than a clericalized pagan.”
The second temptation is to make an idol of numbers, seen in priests who are obsessed with statistics. People, however, cannot be reduced to mere numbers; and God’s gifts cannot be measured by this criterion.
Finally, a third kind of idolatry, related to the second, is a kind of functionalism that is concerned only with efficacy, leaving no room for mystery. “Functionalist” priests, the Pope said, are concerned only with the efficiency of their own programs.
Rooting out idolatry
Pope Francis said that only Christ can reveal these idols to priests; who must, in turn, show them to the Lord, to allow Him to root them out of their lives and destroy them.
The Holy Father concluded his homily by asking St Joseph, “the chaste father, free of hidden idols,” to free priests from possessiveness, and obtain the grace to persevere in task of discerning idols.
“In this way,” he said, “with nobility of heart, we may be able to subordinate to charity what we have learned by law.”