The Pope, “Follow Jesus through faith, not out of self-interest”

“Are we following Jesus out of faith or out of interest, perhaps hoping for some miracle?” Pope Francis puts the faithful gathered during his morning Mass at Santa Marta, through what he referred to as a “good test”, by asking them to “refresh their memory” on all the things that Christ did concretely, not in a generic way, in their lives.

For the homily – as Vatican News reports– the pope took cue from today’s Gospel of John, which tells of the crowd that followed Jesus and wanted to make him king after witnessing the multiplication of the bread and fish. It was precisely that miracle that led people to seek out and listen to the Messiah: in short, it was done “out of interest”, the Pope notes. Or rather their push of faith was “a bit self-interested”.


Jesus – who had withdrawn in the meantime – reproached these people when they found him “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” he says. And he invites us to work not for the food that perishes but for that which remains for eternal life, that is, for “the Word of God and the love of God”.


It is the attitude of Saint Stephen, protagonist of the first Reading of today’s liturgy, who “followed Jesus without weighing the consequences – Francis emphasizes – without saying “this works for me; that doesn’t… He was not self-interested. He loved. So he followed Jesus sure in his faith. They laid a trap of slander, and they led him into it. So he was stoned to death, giving witness to Jesus.”


So, on the one hand, the crowd of the Gospel, on the other, Saint Stephen: two examples of how to follow God, giving your life or “with a bit of self-interest”. What is the right one? The answer seems obvious, but it is difficult to apply. Bergoglio therefore suggests us to “refresh our memory”, to remember the many things that Jesus did in each person’s life: “ We will find so many great things that Jesus has freely given us, because he loves each one of us.”


And “Once I have considered the things Jesus has done for me, I can ask the second question: ‘What should I do for Jesus?’ With these two questions, perhaps we can purify our faith of any self-interest. When I see all that Jesus has given me, my heart generously says: ‘Yes, Lord, I shall give all. I won’t make these mistakes and commit these sins again. I’ll change my life in this way…’ [This is] the road to conversion by love: ‘You’ve given me so much love, so I shall give you my love”.


Pope Francis then concludes with some questions: “This is a good test to see how we follow Jesus: ‘Am I self-interested or not?’… ‘What has Jesus done for me in my life out of love?’ And seeing this, ‘what should I do for Jesus?’ ‘How do I respond to his love?’ That’s how we can purify our faith from all self-interest. May the Lord help us along this path.


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