Pope Francis says "...I invite you to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, with your life of prayer and the offer of daily work." FULL TEXT



Sala Clementina - Friday, 7 January 2022


Dear friends ,

I am happy to receive you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome on the theme of the common good. I thank Archbishop Dominique Rey for his kind words. I find it very beautiful and courageous that, in today's world often marked by individualism, indifference and even the marginalization of the most vulnerable people, some entrepreneurs and business leaders have at heart the service of everyone and not just private interests or of close circles. I have no doubt that this presents a challenge for you. Therefore, I would like to share some gospel teachings with you that can help you fulfill your role as a  leader according to the heart of God. I will take two pairs of concepts which seem to have to be always in tension, but which the Christian, aided by grace, can unify in his own life: ideal and reality; authority and service.

Ideal and reality . A few days ago I mentioned that "clash", that  shock , which every Christian often experiences, between the ideal he dreams of and the real he encounters. I did it about the Virgin Mary in front of the manger in Bethlehem, she who is forced to give birth to the Son of God in the poverty of a stable (cf.  Homily,  January 1, 2022 ): "We hope that everything goes well and then comes, like a bolt from the blue, an unexpected problem. And a painful collision is created between expectations and reality "( ibid .). 

The search for the common good is a cause for concern for you, an ideal, in the context of your professional responsibilities. The common good is therefore certainly a determining element of your discernment and your choices as managers, but it must deal with the obligations imposed by the economic and financial systems currently in place, which often make fun of the evangelical principles of social justice and charity. And I imagine that, at times, your assignment weighs on you, that your conscience comes into conflict when the ideal of justice and the common good that you would imagine reaching could not be realized, and that the harsh reality presents itself to you as a lack, a failure, a remorse, a  shock .

It is important that you can overcome this and live it in faith, in order to persevere and not be discouraged. In the face of the "scandal of the manger" Mary was not discouraged, she did not rebel, but reacted by  keeping and meditating  in her heart, demonstrating an adult faith, which is strengthened in the trial. To guard  is to welcome, despite the darkness and in humility, the things that are difficult to accept that we did not want, that we could not prevent; do not try to disguise or "make up" your life, to escape from your responsibilities. And to  meditate  is, in prayer, to unify the beautiful and the ugly things of which life is made, to better grasp their intertwining and meaning from the perspective of God (  cf.ibid .).

The second combination:  authority and service . When the Apostles argue about who among them is the greatest, Jesus intervenes: "If anyone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all" ( Mk 9.35). The mission of the Christian leader resembles, in many respects, that of the shepherd, of whom Jesus is the model, and who knows how to go before the flock to show the way, knows how to stand in the middle to see what is happening there, and also knows how to stay behind, to make sure no one loses contact. I have often urged priests and bishops to have "the smell of sheep", to immerse themselves in the reality of those entrusted to them, to get to know them, to be close to them. I believe this advice also applies to you! Therefore I encourage you to be close to those who collaborate with you at all levels: to take an interest in their life, to be aware of their difficulties, sufferings, anxieties, but also their joys, projects, hopes.

Exercising authority as a service requires sharing it. Here too, Jesus is our teacher, when he sends his disciples on mission endowing them with his own authority (cf.  Mt  28 : 18-20). You are invited to put into action the subsidiarity which enhances “the autonomy and the capacity for initiative of all, especially of the least. All parts of a body are necessary and [...] those parts that might seem weaker and less important are in reality the most necessary "( General Audience,  23 September 2020). Thus, the Christian executive is called to carefully consider the position assigned to all people in his company, including those whose duties may seem of minor importance, because each is important in God's eyes. Even if the exercise of authority it requires taking courageous decisions and sometimes in the first person, subsidiarity allows everyone to give the best of themselves, to feel involved, to carry their share of responsibility and thus to contribute to the good of the whole.

I realize how demanding and difficult the gospel can be to implement in a competitive and competitive professional world. However, I invite you to keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ, with your life of prayer and the offer of daily work. He had the experience on the cross of loving to the end, of fulfilling his mission to the point of giving his life. You too have your crosses to carry. But be confident: he promised to accompany us "to the end of the age" ( Mt  28:20). Do not hesitate to invoke the Holy Spirit to guide your choices. The Church needs your witness.

I thank you and I bless you. And don't forget to pray for me. Thank you!