L’Osservatore Romano is reporting that Francis was commenting on the readings of the day when he cautioned the faithful to be Christians who faithfully bear witness to Christ because “Christian consistency” is the chief trait of a true follower of Christ.
“In all the things of life, we need to think like a Christian; to feel like a Christian, and to act like a Christian,” he said. “When one of these [characteristics] is missing … one is not a Christian. One might say, ‘I am a Christian!’ but if you do not live like a Christian, if you do not act like a Christian, if you do not think like a Christian and feel like a Christian, something is amiss. There is a certain inconsistency!”
He added, and Christians who “ordinarily and commonly live inconsistently do great harm.”
He used as an example from the letter of the Apostle James in which he presents the story of an inconsistent Christian who boasts of his faith and yet takes advantage of his employees. “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4).
“One who hears [these words] might think: a communist said it! No, no”, the Pope said, “it was the Apostle James who said it: it is the word of the Lord!”
The problem is inconsistency, and “Christians who are inconsistent give scandal.”
Scandal is a serious charge, he warns, and reminds the faithful of what Jesus says about it. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin [whoever scandalizes them], it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
The pope reminded how we’ve all heard comments such as, “I believe in God but not in the Church, because you Christians say one thing and do another!” This occurs because of inconsistency.
“If you happen to be with an atheist who tells you that he does not believe in God, you can read him the whole library, where it says that God exists, and where it is proven that God exists, and he will not believe”. However, he continued, “if in the presence of this same atheist you witness to a consistent, Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart”. And “it will be your witness that brings him the restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works”.
The faithful need to pray for this consistency because it is a gift from God.
He suggested we pray: “Lord, may I be consistent! Lord, may I never give scandal! May I be a person who thinks like a Christian, who feels like a Christian, who acts like a Christian!”
“This is a prayer for all of us today,” he said, “for we need to be consistent!”
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