Pope Francis greets the faithful from the window of the Apostolic Palace (Vatican Media)

September 19, 2021

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the theme of service, saying that when we serve others, we receive God’s embrace.

By Christopher Wells

In God’s eyes, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “greatness and success” are not measured by social position, job title, or wealth, but by service; “not on what someone has, but on what someone gives.”

The Holy Father looked to the day’s Gospel, where Jesus’ disciples were discussing among themselves which of them was the greatest. Jesus responded with “with harsh words… that are still valid today”: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.”

The Pope acknowledged that the idea of service might seem “a bit hackneyed, worn out by use.” But he insisted that it has a “precise and concrete meaning in the Gospel”; it means “acting like Jesus” who had come into the world “not to be served, but to serve.”

Following Jesus’ path of service

Therefore, the Pope said, if we want to follow Jesus, we must follow the “path of service” that He Himself traced out. “Our fidelity to the Lord depends on our willingness to serve,” Pope Francis said, adding that “the more we serve, the more we are aware of God’s presence.” When we serve others, “we, in turn, discover God’s love and embrace.”

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus explains this to the disciples by placing a little child in their midst. In the Bible, the Pope noted, children are a symbol not so much of innocence, but of “littleness.” It is the “little ones” that we are called to serve, “those in need of receiving who can give nothing in return.” In welcoming the most needy and most marginalised, Pope Francis said, “we welcome Jesus because He is there.”

The challenge of the Gospel

Pope Francis invited us to ask ourselves, in response to the challenge of the Gospel, whether we are truly interested in those who need our help, or whether we are like the disciples in the Gospel, seeking our own personal gratification. In concrete terms: “Do I dedicate time to a ‘little one,’ to a person who has no means of repaying me?”

The Pope concluded with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, “the humble servant of the Lord,” asking her to “help us to understand that to serve does not belittle us, but helps us to grow.”

Facebook Comments