Pope Francis’ Angelus address focused on the words of Jesus from Sunday’s Gospel, including the Lord’s “severe criticisms” of the scribes and Pharisees, and His directions to Christians “of all times,” including our own.
Christ’s saying that “the scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses” and His command to “do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you” means that they have the authority to teach what is in conformity to the Law of God, the Pope said. But, the Lord immediately adds, “do not follow their example; for they preach but they do not practice.” Pope Francis said this is a “frequent defect” of those in authority: They are demanding towards others, and they are often correct; but while their directions are just, they fail to practice them themselves. “This attitude is a wicked exercise of authority,” the Pope said, which should instead lead by good example, “helping others practice what is right and due, supporting them in the trials that they encounter on the path of goodness.” If authority is exercised badly, he said, “it becomes oppressive, it does not allow people to grow and it creates a climate of distrust and of hostility, and also brings corruption.”
The behaviours of the scribes and Pharisees, which Jesus denounced, are temptations that come from human pride, which the Pope said is not easy to overcome. “It is a temptation to live solely for appearances.”
“We disciples of Christ should not seek titles of honour, of authority, or of supremacy, because among us there ought to be a fraternal attitude,” Pope Francis said. “I tell you, it saddens me personally to see people psychologically running after the vanity of honorifics. We disciples of Christ should not do this, because among us there ought to be a simple and fraternal attitude. If we have received special gifts from God, “we should put them at the service of our brothers, and not profit by them for our personal satisfaction.”
As Christians, he concluded, we “should not consider ourselves superior to others; modesty is essential for an existence that wants to be conformed to the teaching of Christ, who is meek and humble of heart, and who came not to be served, but to serve. ”