A report of Pope Francis’s recent visit to Mexico summarized the points he made to the Bishops of that country. Framed in a Lenten “examination of the conscience,” the Holy Father listed the qualities that he deems essential to Church leaders…really…qualities that every follower of Jesus Christ should strive to cultivate in their lives.His six points clearly reflect the Gospel and are good fodder for our own examination of conscience as we continue this season of repentance.
A preference for ordinary people and the poor rather than elites.
Then Jesus said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:12-14)
Close contact with social realities, including concrete humanitarian and charitable efforts.
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine,
you did for me.’ (Matt. 25:31)
Political moderation and dialogue with all parties.
As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting
at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners
came and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:9-13)
Simplicity of lifestyle and approach.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys,
nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Matt. 6 19-21)
Personal integrity and distaste for wheeling and dealing.
Then the Pharisees* went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion?
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that, he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
When they heard this, they were amazed,
and leaving him they went away.(Matt. 22:15-22)
Rejection of careerism; that is, a prelate who thinks more about this job than the next one.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing
how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you, he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:7-11)
This week’s Gospel challenges us to consider whether we are living the Gospel or simply giving it “lip service.” It would benefit our Lenten exercise to join the Mexican Bishops in examining our lives using the Holy Father’s “job description” for a good Bishop…because these are also the qualifications for discipleship.