PopeWatch: Who Do You Say That I Am?


The most important question in all of history is the simple one posed by Jesus:  “Who do you say that I am?”  In his homily on Thursday the Pope posed a partial answer to the eternal question.


These, the Pope said, “were the voices that reached the people, and none of these voices had the power to warm the hearts of the people – But Jesus did! The crowds were amazed: They heard Jesus and their hearts were warmed. The message of Jesus reached to the heart.” Jesus, Pope Francis said, “approached to the people,” He “healed the heart of the people,” He “understood their difficulties.” Jesus, he continued, “was not ashamed to speak with sinners, He went out to find them,” Jesus “felt joy, He was happy to be with His people.” And this is why Jesus is “the Good Shepherd,” the sheep hear His voice and follow Him:

“And this is why the people followed Jesus, because He was the Good Shepherd. He wasn’t a moralistic, quibbling Pharisee, or a Sadducee who made political deals with the powerful, or a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people, or a contemplative in a monastery. He was a pastor! A pastor who spoke the language of His people, Who understood, Who spoke the truth, the things of God: He never trafficked in the things of God! But He spoke in such a way that the people loved the things of God. That’s why they followed Him.”

Jesus, the Pope said, “was never far from the people, was never far from His Father.” Jesus “was so joined to the Father, He was one with the Father!” and so was “so very close to the people.” He “had this authority, and this is why the people followed Him.” Contemplating Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Pope said, it would be good for us to think about who we like to follow:


Go here to read the rest.  There is much truth in this, although PopeWatch has always been struck by how few people followed Jesus while He walked among us.  His career lasted three years and ended on a cross.  Even with powerful miracles His movement appeared to be a brief one, swiftly and easily defeated.  If it had been a human movement, Jesus today would be a forgotten figure from ancient history, cloaked in the forgetfulness that twenty centuries bring.  Jesus planted powerful seeds, but it took grace and human effort and blood to bring them forth, inspired by the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit.  We see in the work of Jesus on Earth that God wishes us to stand forth bravely for His truth, and that God does not wish us to be mere passengers on the road to salvation.

More to explorer


  1. I wonder where in the Pope’s homily was this said, “From that time [the arrest of John the Baptist] Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
    Yes, Jesus healed the heart of the people, He understood their difficulties. Jesus was not ashamed to speak with sinners, He went out to find them, Jesus felt joy, He was happy to be with His people. And yes, this is why Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the sheep hear His voice and follow Him.
    But Jesus is Lord and King as well as Pastor and Savior. He cannot be the latter two without being the former two. It is gratifying to hear the Pope speak of repentance when talking about the obviously murderous – the Mafiosi. Perhaps he will eventually say the same about liberal progressive Democrat politicians who abuse their status as born and raised Katholycks and then justify and disseminate their gospel of social justice, the common good and peace at any price while they pass laws and promote measures to murder the unborn and sanctify the filth of sexual perversion.
    Healing comes with repentance, not before. And we all have to repent on a daily basis.

  2. St Augustine, as usual, is very good on this: “Moreover, in the same mass of ruin the Jews were left, because they could not believe such great and eminent mighty works as were done in their sight. For the gospel has not been silent about the reason why they could not believe, since it says: “But though He had done such great miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him; that the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spake, [Isa. liii. 1] Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? And, therefore, they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, [Isa. vi. 10] He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” [John xii. 37 ff.]
    Therefore the eyes of the Tyrians and Sidonians were not so blinded nor was their heart so hardened, since they would have believed if they had seen such mighty works, as the Jews saw. But it did not profit them that they were able to believe, because they were not predestinated by Him whose judgments are inscrutable and His ways past finding out. Neither would inability to believe have been a hindrance to them [the Jews], if they had been so predestinated as that God should illuminate those blind eyes, and should will to take away the stony heart from those hardened ones…. For they hear these things and do them to whom it is given; but they do them not, whether they hear or do not hear, to whom it is not given. Because, “To you,” said He, “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” [Matt. xiii. 11] Of these, the one refers to the mercy, the other to the judgment of Him to whom our soul cries, “I will sing of mercy and judgment unto Thee, O Lord.” [Ps. CI. 1]” – Praescientia et praeparatio beneficiorum Dei.

  3. To Donald Paul and Michael.

    Thank you. I have enjoyed your insights this morning. We are blessed.

  4. Ouch say the contemplatives in the monasteries….we’re grouped with pharisees, publicans, and Che Guevara…can we have a tee shirt with an image of St. John of the Cross escaping Carmelite prison through the little window?

  5. The Pope has a point. Monasticism should always be valued, but Jesus was not an Essene, and he obviously saw that his total withdrawing from the world would not save it.

    I have to echo Philip. Don, your last paragraph on this post is a gem.

  6. “Or a contemplative in a monastery”
    Contem[platives in monasteries are always open to seekers of truth, wisdom and spiritual guidance. Pilgrims must come to contemplatives, because contemplatives are cloistered, but contemplatives are always open to the pilgrim, just like Jesus, Who was always open to all the people who came to Him.
    Mother Angelica of EWTN was a cloistered Poor Claire. Mother Angelica had a vocation within a vocation, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Following Jesus must be according to our vocation from God. Jesus did only the will of His Father in perfect conformity.
    Jesus did not quibble, nor was Jesus moralistic . These are fakes.
    If anyone is called to be a guerrilla soldier to liberate his people as Saint Joan of Arc, so be it, unless he or she as had beforehand committed his vows to God through the Catholic Church and received ordination to Holy Orders.
    If anyone follow Pope Francis’ words but ignores his vocation to the detriment of his soul, he will be damned.

  7. Mary de Voe

    Saint Joan of Arc was not a guerrilla; she was a general officer in the French King’s service.

  8. Guerrillas? Would Pope Francis lump Pelayo in with those he speaks of? Or would Pope Francis even know of Pelayo?

    According to Warren Carroll’s book, Isabel – The Catholic Queen – Pelayo, whose sister had been put in a harem of the Muslim Caliph of Cordoba, escaped his Muslim captors and made his way to the north of Spain, Asturias. There, he gathered a few like minded people, who made him King, and Pelayo swore that Spain would one day be liberated from the Muslims. It was. Pelayo battled the rest of his life, being at one point backed into a cave at Covadonga, but he never lost faith in God or His Church.

    Mother Angelica has already been mentioned as a contemplative. Her vision has resulted in a network that has reached countless people in numerous languages.

    It is worthwhile not to be hypersensitive to the words of Pope Francis. He does not measure his words. He is not careful of what he says and often comes across ill informed. He often makes a backhanded insult (neo-Pelagians) and nobody knows for sure if it is intentional or not.

    Jesus ventured out of Israel only a few times – Samaria, Tyre, Sidon if memory serves. It was the Apostles, who had been visited by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, who spread the Gospel of Christ from India (Thomas) to Spain (James).

  9. “He never trafficked in the things of God!”
    That needs qualification if Jesus is God. 🙂 No, He wasn’t “selling” Himself to us, but invitations were sent out, so to speak. Consider whether John the Baptist was “trafficking” in the things of God…

    “But He spoke in such a way that the people loved the things of God. That’s why they followed Him.” As per Don, He spoke in such a way that some of the people loved the things of God right off the bat.

    And, no, Jesus was the opposite of a quibbling Pharisee, but was Jesus really the opposite of moralistic? As in, promoting a specific moral view? As in, “good” and “bad”, or to put it in Pope Francis lingo, “yes! to” and “no! to” ?

  10. “or a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people.” I am sure Pope Francis was referring to the proponents of liberation theology, whom Pope John Paul II called out. In Jesus Christ’s time Barrabas would fulfill that definition.
    Penguin’s Fan and Michael Paterson-Seymour: Saint Joan of Arc, one of the patronesses of France, the other being Saint Teresa, the Little Flower, is one of my favorite saints.
    It was a poor comparison, my point being that once a person takes Holy Orders, he does not take up guerrilla warfare as a soldier.

  11. Everybody knows that Jesus is the cosmic butler who helps us into the saddle…so that we can be all that we can be.

    (pssst… a real God…not a guru to help us scratch our religious itch)

  12. Mary de Voe wrote, “Saint Joan of Arc, one of the patronesses of France, the other being Saint Teresa, the Little Flower, is one of my favorite saints.”
    I often pass Emmanuel Frémiet’s statue of La Pucelle [the Maid] in the Place des Pyramids, near the spot where she was wounded, trying to take Paris. A magnificent equestrian statue, it is one of the landmarks of the city.
    Commemorations are held there every year on 8th May, the anniversary, both of her raising of the siege of Orléans in 1429 and of victory in Europe in 1945 (Fête de la Libération). It was her Cross of Lorraine that the Free French army of North Africa placed on their Tricolore.

  13. He never trafficked in the things of God!

    That sounds like a dig at Simon Magus, and his modern counterparts – televangelists! I can see Joel Olsteen clicking on “unfriend” at this very moment.

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