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Disciples of the Lord and not of ideology

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

“Once a Christian has become a disciple of an ideology, he has lost the faith and is no longer a disciple of the Lord,” and the only remedy for this malady is prayer.  This was the heart of Pope Francis' homily on Thursday morning, 17 October. The Pope commented on the Gospel passage of the day taken from St Luke (11:47-54), in which the evangelist recounts the Lord's warning to the doctors of the law: “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering”.

The Pope likened  the lawyer's attitude to a  “closed Church” that “passers-by cannot enter” and that “the Lord who is within cannot leave” and to “Christians who have key in hand but carry it away” or worse, “who stand at the door but let no one in”.

The Christian who assumes this “pocketed key, closed door mentality” goes through a “spiritual and mental process” which leads him to “make the faith pass through an alembic,” transforming it into “an ideology”. Pope Francis continued: “but ideologies do not blend and unite. Jesus is not present in ideologies. Jesus is tenderness, love, meekness, and ideologies of whatever sort are always rigid”. So much so, he added, that they risk making a Christian “a disciple of a particular way of thinking” rather than “a disciple of Jesus”.

The Lord's warning is still timely, he said, since these attitudes trigger a process whereby “the faith becomes an ideology that puts people off and frightens them! Ideologies drive people away and distance the Church from the people”. The Pontiff noted that the problem of ideology is not a “new illness”. The Apostle John spoke of it in his first letter where he describes “Christians who lose their faith and prefer ideologies”.

What causes these attitudes to emerge in the heart of a Christian? For Pope Francis, the answer is simple: a lack of prayer. "This Christian doesn't pray. And without prayer" the door closes.

Therefore, the Pope continued, “the key to opening the door to faith is prayer”.

Pope Francis concluded by saying that the Lord invites us to ask for the grace "never to stop praying so that we might never lose the faith" and "to remain humble" so that we might never become people "who close the road to the Lord".

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