VATICAN CITY. True disciples of Jesus always choose to do good, even when they are rejected, and never resort to anger or threatening divine punishment on others, Pope Francis said.
Speaking to pilgrims during his Sunday Angelus address June 26, the pope said that when treated unjustly, Jesus does not take “the path of anger but that of a resolute decision to go forward, which, far from translating into harshness, implies calm, patience, long-suffering, not slackening the least bit in doing good.”
“This means that when we meet with opposition, we must turn toward doing good elsewhere, without recrimination,” he said.
In his address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Luke, which recalled Jesus being rejected by the people of Samaria while traveling to Jerusalem with his disciples.
The pope said Jesus’ decision to travel to Jerusalem while fully aware “that rejection and death await him” is a reminder that to be true followers, Christians must be resolute in the face of suffering.
“For we must be serious disciples of Jesus, truly decisively, not ‘rosewater Christians’ as an old woman I knew used to say. No, no, no! Decisive Christians,” he said.
The choice to do good, he continued, also must be made without seeking approval or applause because those are nothing more than “pride, combined with weakness, susceptibility and impatience.”
“Let us then ask Jesus for the strength to be like him, to follow him with firm resolve on this path of service. Not to be vindictive, not to be intolerant when difficulties arise, when we spend ourselves for good and others do not understand, indeed, when they demean us,” the pope said.
In the Gospel, the pope recalled, the rejection by the people of Samaria angered the disciples James and John who suggest that Jesus punish the people “by raining fire from heaven down on them.”
Jesus not only rejects their proposal, “he also rebukes the two brothers” for their “desire for revenge.”
“The ‘fire’ that Jesus came to bring on the earth is something else,” the pope said. “It is the merciful love of the Father. And it takes patience, constancy and a penitential spirit to make this fire grow.”
Pope Francis also reflected on the theme of “fire” when he met June 25 with members of religious orders founded by St. Luigi Orione.
“The fire of Christ is a good fire” and not like the destructive fire that James and John wanted to unleash on others, the pope said. “His is a fire of love, a fire that lights people’s hearts, a fire that gives light, that warms and revives.”
Knowing where to bring that light and warmth, he said, “requires looking at today’s world as apostles, that is, with discernment but with sympathy, without fear, without prejudice, with courage; looking at the world as God looks at it, feeling as our own the sorrows, joys and hopes of humanity.”
“We must see the miseries of this world of ours as the reason for our apostolate and not as an obstacle,” the pope said.