True Pastors Listen More Than They Speak, Says Pope Francis

Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Franco Origlia/Getty

Authentic Christians can be recognized by their ability to listen, above all to God, said Pope Francis Thursday, while warning that false prophets speak their own words rather than God’s.

In his homily during Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, Francis reminded the congregation that Jesus warned his disciples “to watch out for false prophets.”

“They speak and they act,” he said, “but they lack another attitude, which is the basis, the very foundation of speaking and acting: they fail to listen.” And this deafness and inability to listen means their words and actions are sterile, said Francis, because “by their fruits you shall know them.”

“They speak so many words, they work wonders and do great things, but they do not have an open heart to hear God’s Word. They are afraid of silence,” he said.

“These are false Christians, false pastors,” he said.

Because they do not hear God’s voice, he said, they “preach a gospel that is not the Gospel,” and “what they do speak, they speak from themselves, not from God.”

Without the rock of the love of God and the Word of God, he said, “They cannot prophesy, they cannot build: they pretend, but in the end everything collapses.” These are the “false pastors, worldly pastors, pastors or Christians who talk too much,” he said.

The Pope contrasted this sort of false prophet with true Christians who hear the words of Jesus and act accordingly, drawing from the Gospel of the day: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.”

All three are necessary, Francis said: listening, speaking, and acting. “One who only speaks and acts” without listening, he said, “is not a true prophet, not a true Christian, and in the end everything will collapse.”

“One who knows how to listen and after listening acts on the strength of the word of Another, not his own, that one remains firm,” he asserted.

Fortunately, there are many of these, Francis said. “So many great bishops, so many great priests, so many great faithful who listen and act on what they have heard!” he said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.