At today’s mass in St. Martha’s House, Francis talked about the kind of Christian that lives a closed life, choosing a path of selfishness, arrogance, believing he or she is right, and bowing down to the “holiness” of appearances
Domenico Agasso jr Taken from Vatican Insider
At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, Pope Francis rejected hypocritical Christians outright. He distinguished between those who are so attached to the law that they neglect justice and those whose lives are guided by love and so they apply the law fully. Being a “hypocritical Christian” who in the name of the law neglects “justice” and “love” – just as the Pharisees do when they ask Jesus if it is acceptable to heal the sick on a Saturday – is an ugly thing. The right path to take, is the one that goes “from love to law”, starting from the “flesh”, from “closeness”: “flesh is the symbol of God” who became man and “flesh is the symbol of true justice”. Francis said this in this morning’s homily, commenting on the passage in the Gospel that describes Jesus’ response to a question put to him by the Pharisees – whether it is acceptable to heal sick people on Saturday. Jesus does not answer with words but with actions: “he takes a sick person by the hand and heals him.”
Jesus – Francis emphasised – rebukes these people “who were so attached to the law that they had forgotten about justice” and even denied elderly parents help with the excuse that they had donated all they had to the Temple. But who is more important? – the Pope asked – The forth Commandment or the Temple?” “By being too attached to the law, they were drawn away from love and justice. They followed the law closely but neglected justice. They followed the law closely but neglected love. They were models, they were the models. Jesus had one word for these kinds of people: hypocrites. On the one hand you go around the world looking for proselytes: you look. And then what do you do? You close the door. You become closed people, people who are so attached to the law, who follow the letter of the law, not the law, for love is the law; people who are attached to the letter of the law, who always shut the door on hope, on love, on salvation … All these people know is how to close.”
To be faithful to the law, without neglecting justice, without neglecting love – Francis continued, quoting St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians – one needs to go in the opposite direction: from love to integrity; from love to discernment; from love to the law.”
“This is the path Jesus teaches us and it is the exact opposite path to the one taught by the doctors of the law. The path from love to justice leads to God. The other path, however, the one where people focus only on the law, on the letter of the law, leads to a closed attitude and to selfishness. The path that has love as the starting point and leads toward knowledge and discernment, to complete fulfilment, also leads to holiness, salvation and to an encounter with Jesus. This path, however, leads to selfishness, the arrogance of believing one is right, and to that “holiness” of appearances, doesn’t it? To these people, Jesus says: “You like to be seen as men of prayer, of fasting … you like to be seen don’t you? This is why Jesus says to people: “You do what they say, not what they do.”
“Jesus approaches us and when Jesus does this, it is a sign that we are on the right track. Because this is the very path God has chosen in order to save us: closeness. He came to us and became man. God became man, he became one of us and we must become like others, like the needy, like those who need our help,” Francis went on to say.
“May these examples, may this example of Jesus’ closeness, from love to the complete fulfilment of the law – Francis concluded – help us to avoid ever slipping into hypocrisy: ever. It is an ugly thing to be a hypocritical Christian. So ugly.”