Pope: History and Service, Two Traits of Christian Identity

April 30, 2015

Santa Marta

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 “History and service.” In his homily on Thursday morning, Pope Francis spoke about these “two traits of Christian identity.”

Beginning with “history,” Pope Francis said Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and the other disciples “did not proclaim a Jesus without a history: They proclaimed Jesus in the history of the people, a people God led through the centuries in order to arrive… at the fullness of time.” God enters into history and into the journey with His people:

“The Christian is a man or woman of history, because he does not pertain to himself alone – he is inserted into a people, a people that is on a journey. One cannot imagine a Christian selfishness, no, this won’t fly. The Christian is not a spiritual man or woman in a laboratory, [the Christian] is a spiritual man or woman inserted into a people, which has a long history and which continues to journey until the Lord returns.”

It is a “history of grace, but also a history of sin”:

“So many sinners, so many crimes! Today, Paul mentions King David, a saint – but before he became a saint, he was a great sinner. A great sinner. Our history must take up both saints and sinners. My own personal history, the history of each one of us, must take up our sin, our own proper sin, and the grace of the Lord that is with us, accompanying us in our sin in order to forgive and accompanying us in grace. There is no Christian identity without history.”

The second trait of Christian identity is service. “Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, inviting them to do as He has done: to serve”:

“Christian identity is service, not selfishness. ‘But Father, we are all selfish.’ Ah, really? It is a sin, a habit we have to break away from. Ask for forgiveness, that the Lord will convert us. We are called to service. Being Christian is not about appearance, or even about social conduct, it’s not a little make-up for the soul, because it should be a little more beautiful. To be Christian is to do what Jesus did: serve!”

Pope Francis called us to ask ourselves, “In my heart, what more can I do? Do I have other people serve me,  do I use others, the community, the parish, my family, my friends? Or do I serve, am I at the service of others?”

 
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