· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·
We need “Christians of action and truth” and not “Christians of words”. Pope Francis said this, returning to a topic dear to him, at the Mass he celebrated this morning, Thursday, 27 June, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Martae. Concelebrating with the Pope among others were Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, Archbishop of Aparecida and President of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference. Taking part in the Mass were personnel of the Department of Health and Welfare of the Governorate of Vatican City State, led by its director, Patrizio Polisca.
The Pope's reflection, inspired by the day's Readings, started with the passage from the Gospel according to Matthew (7: 21-29), in which, the Pope said, “the Lord speaks to us of our foundation, the foundation of our Christian life”; and he tells us that this foundation is the rock”. We must therefore “build the house”, namely, our life, on the rock that is Christ. When St Paul speaks of the rock in the desert, he is referring to Christ, the Pope emphasized. He is the only rock “that can give us security”, so that “we are all invited to build our life upon this rock of Christ. Not on any other”.
In the Gospel passage, the Holy Father said, Jesus also mentions to all who believe they can build their life on words alone: “Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus straight away suggests building our house upon the rock”.On the basis of this teaching Pope Francis identified “two classes of Christians in the history of the Church ”: the first, of whom to beware, are the “Christians of words”, that is, those who limit themselves to repeating: 'Lord, Lord, Lord'. The second, the genuine Christians are “Christians of action and of truth”. The Pope pointed out in this regard that there is always a temptation to live our Christianity away from the rock that is Christ; the only One who gives us the freedom to say “Father” to God; the only one who supports us in difficult moments”. Jesus himself says so with vivid examples: “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew”, but where “the rock is, there is safety”. On the contrary, when there are only “words, words fly, they are of no use”. One ends in fact facing the “temptation of these 'Christians of words': a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And unfortunately “this happened and is still happening in the church today”.
This temptation, present in the Church's history in many different ways, has given life to various categories of “Christians without Christ”. Among these Pope Francis picked out two: the “light Christian”, who, “instead of loving the rock, loves beautiful words, beautiful words” and turns towards a “god of spray”, a “personal god”, with attitudes of superficiality and flimsiness”. This temptation still exists today: “superficial Christians who indeed believe in God”, but not in Jesus Christ, “the One who gives you a foundation”. The Pope described those who give into the temptation of a fluid Christianity as “the modern Gnostics”..
To the latter category belong “those who believe that Christian life” must be taken so seriously” that they end by “confusing solidity and firmness with rigidity”. These “rigid Christians”, the Pope said, “think that to be a Christian it is necessary to wear mourning”, and always “ take everything seriously”, paying attention to formalities, just as the scribes and Pharisees did. For the Pope, these are Christians for whom “everything is serious. They are today's Pelagians who believe in the firmness of faith and are convinced that “salvation is the way I do things”. “I must do them seriously” without any joy. The Pope commented, “they are very numerous. They are not Christians. They disguise themselves as Christians”.
In short, these two categories of believers – Gnostics and Pelagians – “do not know Jesus, they do not know who the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, they have none of the freedom of Christians” Consequently, “they have no joy”.... And in addition to having no joy, they “have no freedom” either. “In their life there is no room for the Holy Spirit”.
Therefore the Lord's teaching for today, according to Pope Francis, is an invitation “to build our Christian life on the rock that gives us freedom” and “enables us to continue on Christ's path, following what he proposes”. Thus a grace to ask of the Lord is the ability “to go ahead in life as Christians, standing firm on the rock that is Jesus Christ and with the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us.” A grace to ask “in a special way of Our Lady. She”, the Pope concluded, “knows what it means to be founded on the rock”.
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