Addressing pilgrims gathered for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis invites us to ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, the immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, in service.
Focusing his reflections on today’s Gospel reading which recounts when the disciples James and John asked the Lord to one day sit beside him glory, Pope Francis observed that Jesus responded offering them a fundamental teaching: “true glory” does not mean rising over others, but “experiencing the same baptism” that Jesus would receive soon in Jerusalem. As the baptism means “immersion”, Jesus with his Passion “immersed himself into death, offering his life to save us”, he explained, so His glory, God’s glory, is “love that becomes service, not power that seeks to dominate”.
Pope Francis pointed out that two types of thinking are happening here. The disciples wish “to rise up”, while Jesus wants us to be “immersed”. The first verb reflects a tempting worldly mentality, he noted, where we wish to rise up to have and experience everything, feeding ambitions, climbing the ladder to success. This quest for prestige, he noted, can become a spiritual problem, hiding behind good intentions where the end desire is all about ourselves and our own affirmation. He said this is why we must always discern our heart’s real intentions, asking ourselves questions about our underlying motivations in whatever we do: are we aiming to serve others or really seeking recognition, praise and compliments? The Pope said Jesus instead calls on us to rise up instead to serve others, not to rise above and over others to dominate, but to be “immersed in others’ lives.”
The second verb, he went on to say, is “to be immersed”. Here Jesus invites us to “immerse ourselves compassionately” in the lives of everyone we meet, just as He did. Looking upon the Crucified Lord, “immersed to the depths of our wounded history” we see God’s way of working, he said, noting that He came among us in Jesus, lowering himself to wash our feet. The Pope underscored that “. God is love and love is humble, it does not exalt itself”, just like the rain which comes down from the skies and brings life.
The Pope asked how can we go from “rising” to “immersing ourselves”, or from an attitude of “prestige” to one of “service”. While dedication is important, we have to draw on the strength of Baptism, he said, of the “immersion in Jesus” we have already received, he pointed out, noting that this grace helps direct us to follow Him instead of our own interests, helping us to be of service to others. He invited us all to “ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, the immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, in service”. And may we follow the humble and loving example of Mary who can help us to be “completely immersed” in our service to the Lord and one another.