At the Angelus on Sunday, 5 November, Pope Francis reiterated his appeal for peace in the Holy Land. “I hope that all avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict may be absolutely avoided, so that the wounded can be rescued and help may reach the population of Gaza”, he said, also urging that hostages be released immediately. Reflecting on the day’s Gospel passage, the Pope warned against “duplicity of heart”, which he said “puts the authenticity of our witness as well as our credibility as persons and as Christians at risk”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words to the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
From the Gospel of today’s liturgy, we hear some of Jesus’ words about the scribes and Pharisees, that is, the religious leaders of the people. Regarding these people in authority, Jesus uses very severe words, “for they preach, but do not practice” (Mt 23:3) and “they do all their deeds to be seen by others” (v. 5). This is what Jesus says — they preach but do not practice, and everything they do they do to be seen.
So, let us pause on these two aspects: the gap between saying and doing, and the primacy of the exterior over the interior.
The gap between saying and doing. Jesus contests the duplicity of the lives of these teachers of Israel, who claim to teach others the Word of God and to be respected as Temple authorities; they preach one thing, but then live another. These words of Jesus recall those of the prophets, in particular [the prophet] Isaiah: “This people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Is 29:13). This is the danger to be on guard for: duplicity of heart. We too have this danger, this duplicity of heart that puts the authenticity of our witness as well as our credibility as persons and as Christians at risk.
Because of our weakness, we all experience a certain distance between what we say and what we do. But having a duplicitous heart is something else. It is living with “a foot in both camps” without any problem. Let us remember this, especially when we are called to exercise a role of responsibility — in life, in society or in the Church — no to duplicity! This rule is always valid for a priest, a pastoral worker, a politician, a teacher, or a parent: be committed to be the first to live what you say, what you preach to others. To be authoritative teachers, we first need to be credible witnesses.
The second aspect follows as a consequence: the primacy of the exterior over the interior. In fact, living in duplicity, the scribes and Pharisees are concerned about having to hide their inconsistency to save their outward reputation. Indeed, if the people knew what was truly in their hearts, they would have been ashamed, losing all credibility. And so, they perform works to appear righteous, to “save face”, as we say. This facade is very common — they put make-up on their faces, make-up on their life, make-up on their hearts… And these “made-up” people do not know how to live the truth. And many times, even we experience this temptation of duplicity.
Brothers and sisters, accepting this warning from Jesus, let us ask ourselves too: Do we try to practice what we preach, or do we live in a duplicitous way? Do we say one thing and do another? Are we concerned only about showing how impeccable we are on the outside, made-up, or do we also cultivate our interior life in sincerity of heart?
Let us turn to the Holy Virgin. May she who lived in integrity and humility of heart according to God’s will help us to become credible witnesses of the Gospel.
After praying the Angelus the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and in Israel, where many, many people have lost their lives. In God’s name, I beg you to stop: stop the fighting! I hope that all avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict may be absolutely avoided, so that the wounded can be rescued and help may reach the people of Gaza where the humanitarian situation is extremely serious. May the hostages be freed immediately. There are also many children among them — may they return to their families! Yes, let’s think of the children, of all the children caught up in this war, as well as in Ukraine and other conflicts: this is how their future is being killed. Let us pray that there might be the strength to say, “Enough”.
I am near to the population of Nepal who is suffering because of an earthquake, as well as the Afghan refugees who have found refuge in Pakistan but now do not know where to go. I pray also for the victims of the storms and floods in Italy and other countries.
I warmly greet all of you, people from Rome and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet the members of the faithful from Vienna and from Valencia, the parish group from Cagliari, the Band and Choir from Longomoso in Upper Adige. I greet the young people from Rodengo Saiano, Ome and Padergnone; the catechists from Cassina de’ Pecchi and those from Saint John Bosco parish in Trieste; I greet the “Stop the war” committee.
I hope you all have a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!