VATICAN CITY, April 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis warned that some people, even in the Church, are “social climbers” that try to promote themselves, instead of seeking to glorify Christ.
“These social climbers exist even in the Christian communities, no? Those people who are looking out for themselves … and consciously or unconsciously pretend to enter but are thieves and robbers,” he said at an April 22 Mass for Vatican press office and Vatican Radio employees.
“Why? Why steal the glory from Jesus? They want glory for themselves and this is what (Jesus) said to the Pharisees: ‘You seek for each other’s approval,’” the Pope responded.
The result of this approach is that the faith becomes “something of a ‘commercial’ religion,” he reflected.
“I give glory to you and you give glory to me. But these people did not enter through the true gate. The (true) gate is Jesus and those who do not enter by this gate are mistaken.”
Christians can know which way or gate is Jesus’ by looking for the marks of the Beatitudes, he said.
There are many paths that we can follow, he explained, some perhaps more advantageous than others in getting ahead, but they are “misleading, they are not real; they are false. The only path is Jesus. ”
“Some of you may say, ‘Father, you’re a fundamentalist!’” Pope Francis recalled.
“No, simply put, this is what Jesus said: ‘I am the gate,’ ‘I am the path.’ … It is a beautiful gate, a gate of love, it is a gate that does not deceive, it is not false. It always tells the truth, but with tenderness and love.”
But, he noted, “we still have … the source of original sin within us, is not it so? We still desire to possess the key to interpreting everything, the key and the power to find our own path, whatever it is, to find our own gate, whatever it is.”
“And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God.
We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus,” he emphasized, reminding the congregation that any other path of entering is for ‘thieves and robbers.’
“He is simple, the Lord. His words are not complex. He is simple.”
Pope Francis concluded by encouraging every to ask for “the grace to always knock on that gate.”
“Sometimes it’s closed: we are sad, we feel desolation, we have problems with knocking, with knocking at that gate. Do not go looking for other gates that seem easier, more comfortable, more at hand. Always the same one: Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, Jesus does not deceive, Jesus is not a thief, not a robber. He gave his life for me. Each of us must say this: ‘And you who gave your life for me, please, open, that I may enter.’”
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Jerry Robinson said:
At the risk of exposing the neophyte that I am, can anyone give me a description of the “social climber” to which Pope Francis refers? I’m supposing it is someone who goes to church more for the purpose of promoting themselves through the social network that church may offer than to worship Christ. If that is their motivation to go to church then I agree with him. But, what about people who are faithful and who may enjoy some social elevation through their honest participation in church ministries and other activities? Is it wrong to attract others and perhaps become a leader within the community? I would find it difficult to find error in doing so. It seems to me, then, that it is the underlying motive to attend church that is the issue in question. And, if so, how do you determine that worshipping Christ is someone’s secondary motive? They won’t be wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with it. Unless they give some outward clue or proof it is pure speculation on the observer’s part. And, if an opinion is formed based on this speculation, it is called judgement, which, of course, is a big no-no for us. So, how do you know?
The next question I have is about the “gates” to which the Pope refers. I understand the gate that is Jesus but I am having trouble determining what these other gates may be that are there for “thieves and robbers”. Whatever they look like, the gate crasher obviously thinks he is “in” when he goes through one. But, because his focus is on himself, he fails to recognize there is another, inner gate that also has to be accessed and that it is the same gate he bypassed, if he ever saw the main gate at all.
One of the problems I see is that self-centered people don’t know they are self-centered. It’s not on their radar. It takes other people to tell them and even then they may not believe them. But, as Christians, it’s our duty to try and find these people and show them the real gate and that their motivation is flawed and needs to be redirected to actually enter through the main gate. And that takes me back to my question of how do you know who they are without judging them?
I’m not disagreeing with Pope Francis, I just feel like I need more information to both understand what he is getting at and to take action.