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You cannot be a Christian without Jesus

· The Pope's mass at Santa Marta ·

There is no Christian without Jesus. And Jesus is not present if a “Christian” listens to commands that do not lead to Christ or do not come from Christ. Pope Francis, at mass this morning, Saturday 7 September, at Santa Marta, insisted on the Christocentric nature of our faith. And he warned Christians not to follow revelations, whether public or private, unless they lead to Christ.

In the homily this morning the Holy Father continued his reflection from Friday, in which he spoke about Jesus as the spouse of the Church. The gospel passage today (Lk 6:1-5) speaks of Jesus with the pharisees who were criticizing the apostles for having violated the sabbath by picking the heads of grain and eating them.

In this passage Jesus, the Pontiff said, “says: I am the Lord, Lord also of the sabbath. In another part he will, the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath. His centrality is also the Christian's centrality in regard to many things. Jesus is the core, he is Lord”. This “we don't understand very well”, because “it is not easy to understand”. We only know that “he is the Lord”, his is “the power, the glory, the victory. He alone is Lord”.

Citing the Letter of St Paul to the Colossians (1:21-23) the Holy Father talked about what the Apostle said: that Jesus reconciled us “in his body of flesh by his death – we reconciled us all – in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him; provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast”. Jesus is the centre and he regenerates us and grounds us in faith. But “the pharisees instead put the law at the centre of their religiosity. And Jesus says of them: they are laying burdens on people's shoulders”.

If Jesus is not at the centre, the Pontiff said, “other things are”. And today “we encounter many Christians without Christ, without Jesus. For example, those with the sickness of the pharisees and there are Christians who put their faith, their religiosity, their Christianity, in laws: I must do this, I must do that. Christians by habit”: who do what they do because they must, but in fact, “they do not know what they do”.

Pope Francis wondered: “Where is Jesus?... A command is valid if it comes from Jesus”. There are so many Christians without Christ, like those “who seek out only devotions, but no Jesus. There is something missing, my brother! Jesus is missing. If your devotions lead you to Jesus, then they are good. But if they stay where they are, then something is wrong”. There is another group of “Christians without Christ: those who seek out novelties, special things, they follow some private revelations”, meanwhile Revelation was completed with the New Testament. The Holy Father warned these Christians against the wish to go “to some kind Revelation spectacle, to feel new things. Take up the Bible instead!”. Among Christians without Christ the Pope then mentioned “those who make their souls, so to speak, smell sweet but have not virtue because they do not have Jesus”.

What then is the rule for being a Christian with Christ? And what is the “sign” that someone is in fact a Christian with Christ? It is simple, the Pope explained: “the rule is whatever leads you to Jesus is the valid, and only what comes from Jesus is valid. Jesus is the centre, the Lord, as he himself says”. As a “sign”, he said: it is simple. “ A man or a woman who adores Jesus is a Christian with Jesus. If you can't worship Jesus, something is missing”. The rule is to “follow what comes from Jesus and do what leads to Jesus. The sign is to adoration of Jesus, prayer and adoration before Jesus”.

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