While reflecting on the encounter between Jesus and the man who had been crippled for 38 years, Pope Francis warned the faithful that just going to Mass on Sunday and making sure we have all the right “certificates” is not enough!
Vatican Insider is reporting on the Pope’s homily at morning Mass on April 1 in St. Martha’s House in which he warned the faithful not to become “anesthetized” and hypocritical in their faith life. Instead, we must become involved in our faith, even put ourselves on the line and take risks for the sake of the Gospel.
The pope’s reflections were centered on what he saw as two spiritual sicknesses that can be found in the passage where Jesus heals a man who had been crippled for many years and is then criticized by the Pharisees for healing him on the Sabbath.
The first sickness this passage reflects is that of spiritual sloth.
“I think of many Christians, of many Catholics: yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm, even embittered.’Yes, life is what it is, but the Church – I go to Mass every Sunday, but better not get mixed up in things – I have faith for my health, I do not feel the need to give it to another…’. but, you do something and then they criticize you: ‘No, leave it alone, don’t chance it.’ This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians. This attitude that is crippling the apostolic zeal, which makes Christian people stand still and at ease, but not in the good sense of the word: they do not bother to go out to proclaim the Gospel! They are anesthetized.”
This “not meddling” easily becomes spiritual sloth. “These Christians are sad. They are people without light – real downers, and this is a disease of us Christians.”
They like to say, “We go to Mass every Sunday” but, at the same time, say “Please do not disturb.”
The pope warned that these Christians “without apostolic zeal are not useful, they do not do the Church well. And how many Christians are like this? Selfish, out for themselves.”
This is “the sin of sloth, which is a sin against apostolic zeal, against the desire to give the news of Jesus to others, that newness, which was given to me for free.”
Another sin found in the same passage is the sin of formalism.
“Christians who do not leave space for the grace of God – and the Christian life, the life of these people, consists in having all the paperwork, all the certificates, in order. Christian hypocrites, like these, only interested in their formalities. It was a Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God cannot work on Sabbath days. They close the door to the grace of God. We have so many in the Church, we have many! It is another sin.”
He continued: “The first, those who have the sin of sloth, are not able to go forward with their apostolic zeal, because they have decided to stand firm in themselves, in their sorrows, their resentments, in all of that. Such as these are not capable of bringing salvation because they close the door to salvation. Only the formalities” matter to them, he said. “It is not possible: this is the phrase they have most often to hand.”
Catholics must be on their guard against these sins and learn to defend themselves because temptations to keep silent, to remain in our comfort zones, will surely come.
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