VATICAN CITY – Christians need to avoid the temptation to show so much common sense that they fail to follow Jesus, Pope Francis told pediatric clinic volunteers who work at the Vatican.
The New Testament talks about those who knew Jesus, followed him a bit and even admired him, but decided that what he was asking was just too much, the pope said at an early morning Mass April 20.
Those people probably said to themselves, "We have good sense, don't we?"
"Good-sense Christians" keep their distance, he said. They become "Christian satellites" orbiting around the Church, but not part of it, not committed to growing in their faith or helping the Church grow.
"May the Lord deliver us from the temptation of that so-called 'common sense,' and from the temptation to grumble against Jesus because he is too demanding."
Pope Francis said "lukewarm Christians," consciously or not, try to build a Church to their own liking, demanding it measure up to their expectations rather than trying to live up to its expectations.
The Acts of the Apostles (9.31) describes the early Christian community as walking "in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit," which the pope said means living with a sense of God's presence and in adoration of the Lord.
"When we are in the presence of God, we do not do bad things or make bad decisions. We are in God's sight with joy and happiness," he said. "This is the security of the Holy Spirit, that is the gift that the Lord has given us - this comfort - that keeps us going."
Two days later, Pope Francis told the staff of the Vatican press office, "Sometimes we are tempted to be too much our own bosses and not humble children and servants of the Lord."
In the day's Gospel reading (John 10.1-10), Jesus describes himself as the "gate for the sheep" and talks about thieves and robbers who try to climb over or under the fence to get into the sheepfold.
Pope Francis said there is a constant temptation to "find other gates or windows for entering into the kingdom of God, but one can enter only through that gate called Jesus."
Even in the Christian community, he said, there are "climbers," who want to give themselves glory or choose a path to happiness that isn't Christ.
The way to show that you have entered the fold through Christ, he said, is to be living examples of the Beatitudes - "be poor, be meek, be just."
As well, one must "do what Matthew 25 says" by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting prisoners, he said.