In today’s gospel Jesus uses very strong language to warn the Pharisees and Scholars of the Law; they are not paying attention to the really important things. And they better get their acts together.

I cannot help but think this is exactly what Pope Francis has been telling us. He has been calling us back to the most fundamental message of Jesus:  know God’s love for you is absolute and unconditional, and share this love with every person in your life, especially the poor and outcast.

Francis has clearly reminded us that this needs to be our unrelenting focus. Even our thinking and doctrine about such things as sexuality and marriage cannot trump the fundamental message of love and outreach to the poor and outcast. “The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.

So, I feel it necessary to ask myself, what are the things I pay great attention to, which are simply not that important? How am I going to get back to the most fundamental message that Jesus gives me?

p.s. If you have not already seen it, you will enjoy Chris Lowney’s new book Pope Francis, Why He Leads the Way He Leads.

—David McNulty is the Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits