Pope Francis warned against the destruction of clericalism in his Jan. 10 homily, stressing that humility was power behind Christ’s authority.
“He was at the service of the people. He had an attitude of a servant,” the Pope said of Christ. In his Tuesday homily at the Casa Santa Marta, he linked the authority of Jesus with his service, closeness to the people, and sincerity.
When Jesus emptied himself of his divinity, he committed the ultimate act of humility, the Pope said. It was through this humility that Christ's authority was so effective.
The opposite view – that of pride and a desire to be served – is seen in the Pharisee’s mentality, Francis said.
“We are the masters, the princes, and we teach you. Not service: we command, you obey.”
Warning against clericalism, the Pope stressed against the danger of preferring authority over the concern of persons. The Pharisees prefer the approval of the crowd, looking to show off alms giving, fancy clothes, and fasting. Similarly, clericalism is a detachment from persons, he said.
Looking at the characteristics of Christ’s authority, the Pope noted, “First, a servant, of service, of humility: the head is the one who serves, who turns everything upside down, like an iceberg. The summit of the iceberg is seen; Jesus, on the other hand, turns it upside down and the people are on top and he that commands is below, and gives commands from below.”
Second, he continued, is “closeness.” Laying hands on the blind, eating with sinners, and touching lepers was how Christ became closer to the people. Pope Francis then referenced Blessed Paul VI's Evangelii nuntiandi, saying “one sees the heart of a pastor who is close [to his people.]”
Christ did not shudder away from the sick and the sinner, Pope Francis said, mentioning the men who passed the assaulted man in Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan. The hypocrites speak truth, but do not belong to the truth, he said, because their actions do not match their words.
It is Christ who was sincere, and who lived what he preached, the Pope said.
“Jesus counseled His disciples: ‘But, do what they tell you, but not what they do’: they said one thing and did another...And it is understood that one who considers himself a prince, who has a clericalist attitude, who is a hypocrite, doesn’t have authority.”
Ultimately, clericalism has no authority because people cannot respond to it, Francis said. Jesus, who was the desire of the people, became a servant, sat with the impure, and lived what he preached. People saw His authority because He became a part of the people.
“Jesus…who is humble, who is at the service of others, who is close, who does not despise the people, and who is coherent, has authority. And this is the authority that the people of God senses,” said Pope Francis.