Pope Francis urged his brother Jesuits on Monday to keep growing and maturing in the faith, without allowing a worldly spirit to infect their community.
“There is no growth without crisis, as there is no fruit without pruning or victory without struggle,” the pope told the community of the Collegio Internazionale del Gesù in a meeting in the Vatican on Monday.
This struggle consists primarily in fighting against an unhealthy secularism, a worldly spirit that ignores God, he said.
“To grow, to take root means to fight tirelessly against every spiritual worldliness, which is the worst evil that can befall us,” Francis said. “If worldliness reaches the roots, you can say farewell to fruit and farewell to the plant.”
This battle requires a deep humility, the pope suggested, that in the end brings spiritual peace.
“If your growth is constantly acting against your ego, there will be much fruit,” he said. “And while the enemy spirit will not cease tempting you to look for your ‘consolations,’ insinuating that you live better if you have everything you want, the Spirit your friend will encourage you gently to goodness, to grow in a humble docility, moving forward without fits and without dissatisfactions, with that serenity that comes from God alone.”
The pope also urged his fellow Jesuits to seek to move forward in freedom and obedience, “two virtues that advance if they walk together.”
“I wish you to be free sons who, united in diversity, struggle every day to conquer the greatest freedom: freedom from yourselves,” he said.
A Jesuit is called to be present in the most complicated crossroads, in the borderlands, in the deserts of mankind,” Francis said. “He may find himself like a lamb in the midst of wolves, but he must not fight the wolves, he must just remain a lamb.”
“Looking at you, I see an international community, called to grow and mature together,” the pope said. “May the Gesù College be an active gymnasium in the art of living including the other.”
The current superior general of the Jesuit order, Father Arturo Sosa, caused quite a stir last year when he suggested that different interpretations of the Bible can all be valid since no one really knows exactly what Jesus said anyway.
“It would be necessary to start a nice reflection on what Jesus really said,” Father Arturo Sosa said in his interview with Swiss Vatican journalist Giuseppe Rusconi, since “at that time no one had a tape recorder to record his words.”
“What we do know is that Jesus’ words need to be contextualized. They were expressed with a language, in a specific setting and were directed to someone in particular,” he said.
Asked whether Jesus’ words have an “absolute value,” Father Sosa said that scholars have been struggling “to understand exactly what Jesus meant to say.”
“The word is relative, the Gospel is written by human beings, it is accepted by the Church which is made up of human persons,” he said.
“It is true,” he said, “that no one can change the word of Jesus, but first we need to know what it was!”
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