Don't be afraid of crises, pope tells Jesuits
Calls on Society of Jesus to strengthen roots and not succumb to temptation, even when living 'like a lamb among wolves'
Pope Francis shakes hands with volunteers after holding a special audience for the 20th anniversary of the Sardinia Solidarity volunteering service center, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican in this Nov. 30 photo. The pope has called on Jesuits to be steadfast in the face of crises. (Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)
In fact, "the worst evil that can happen to us," he said, is growing complacent, self-satisfied, and worldly in one's spiritual life, he added.
The pope made the remarks on Dec. 3 with staff and students of Rome's International College of Gesu, founded by the late Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe in 1968.
The pope told the community they have been called to strengthen their roots in God and grow in love.
"The plant grows from the roots, which you don't see, but they hold everything. And it ceases to give fruit, not when it has a few branches, but when the roots dry out. To have roots is to have a heart that is well-grafted" to God, enabling that heart to expand and be alive, he said.
"There is no growth without crisis. Don't be afraid of crises," he told them, because it is necessary, just as there is no "fruit without pruning, no victory without a battle."
"To grow and to put down your roots means to fight without rest against every spiritual worldliness, which is the worst evil that can happen," Pope Francis continued.
If such worldliness "attacks the roots, then goodbye fruit and goodbye plant. For me, this is the greatest danger right now — spiritual worldliness that leads you to clericalism, and so on," he said.
Two positive signs of growth, he said, are obedience and freedom — freedom from oneself and from the slavery that selfishness brings.
Jesuits are called upon to offer themselves to others and "take care of the world that God loves."
They may find themselves "like a lamb among wolves, but they must not battle the wolves, they must only be a lamb," never becoming like the wolves, so that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will know "where his lamb is."