Lukewarm Christians

Lukewarm Christians - Pope Francis     


"The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord” (Ps 37[36]:39). This Psalm verse, reminds us of the truth that “salvation is a gift the Lord gives”: it can’t be bought nor obtained through study, for it is always a gift, a present. But the real question is: “How to protect this salvation? What to do so this salvation remains in us and bears fruit, as Jesus explains, like a seed or kernel of mustard?” Mark (4:26-35).

Hebrews (10:32-39), there are criteria to protect this present, this gift of salvation; in order to allow this salvation to go forth and bear its fruit in us.

The first criterion is that of
memory. In fact, we read in the text: “Brethren, recall the former days, after you received the light of Christ”. Those are “the days of the first love”, as the prophets say: it is “the day of the encounter with Jesus”. Because, when we encountered Jesus, or better yet, when “He let Himself be encountered by us, for it is He who does all” — “it brought great joy, the will to do great things”, as the same author of the Letter explains. Therefore, the first criterion to protect the gift of salvation is “not to forget those first days” marked by “certain enthusiasm”: most of all, “do not forget” that “first love”.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews then goes on, emphasizing the “joy that enabled you to bear all things”, to a point when “all seemed meagre in those former days, and one went forth with enthusiasm”. The Letter exhorts us not to abandon that courage — namely ‘this honesty’ — that parrhesìa of those former days. It is indeed that “first love” which made grow within us that courage, that ‘let’s go on!’, that enthusiasm.

The call, however, is to not abandon honesty. But, “abandon” is not even the right word, if we go to the original text we find a powerful expression: “Do not throw away, do not waste, do not reject honesty”. It is like a rejection: do not push away this honesty, this courage, the courage of the former days.

This is why memory is so important, to remember the grace received. Indeed, if we push away this enthusiasm which comes from our memory of that first love, this enthusiasm which comes from the first love then what comes is that serious danger to Christians: warmth. For
lukewarm Christians stay there, idle; and yes, they are Christians, but they have forgotten that first love, they have lost their enthusiasm. What’s more, lukewarm Christians have also lost patience, that ‘tolerating’ things in life with the spirit of Jesus’ love; that ‘tolerating’, that bearing difficulties “on one’s shoulders’. This is why, lukewarm Christians, the poor souls, are in grave danger.

In this regard, there are two images which really strike me, and of which each person should be warned: “But you are lukewarm, be careful!”. St Peter, in his Second Letter, uses the image of the dog who turns back to its own vomit. And this image is distasteful, however, it is a fitting example of “the lukewarm Christian” who returns to that “first love, as if that love never existed”.

The second image, also unpleasant is the one that Jesus recounts of the person who wants to follow Him, and does follow Him, and then He casts out the
demon. This demon, who has gone out of the man, passes through the desert with the intention of returning to that man, to that woman from which he came. And when he returns, he finds the house in order, clean and nice. Thus he gets angry, goes, looks for seven demons worse than him and returns to take possession of that house. And in this way the person isn’t wounded, because it involves ‘polite’ demons: who even knock on the door to come in, but they do come in. The same happens to a lukewarm Christian who doesn’t know who is knocking at the door and opens it, even saying come in! But, Jesus says, in the end, that soul ends up even worse than before.

These two images of the warmth of the Christian make us think. This way we must never forget our first love; rather, we should always remember that first love. This is why the answer to the question how do I go on? is: “with
hope”. That is what the Letter to the Hebrews says to every Christian: For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry.

And thus there are two parameters available to the Christian: “memory and hope”. Ultimately it means reclaiming the memory so as not to lose that most beautiful experience of the first love which nourishes our hope. So often, hope is dark. But the Christian goes forward. He believes. He goes, for he knows that hope does not disappoint, to find Jesus.

These two parameters are the very framework in which we are able to protect this salvation of the righteous which comes from the Lord, this gift of the Lord. We must protect this salvation, for the little mustard seed to grow and bear its fruit. However, many Christians, cause pain, create heartache — so many Christians!. They are the many Christians who go halfway and fail along this path toward the encounter with Jesus. Even if the journey began with the encounter with Jesus, in the middle of the road, they have lost the memory of that first love and have no hope.

Ask the Lord for the grace to protect the present, the gift of salvation. It is a gift that each Christian must protect on this journey that always reclaims the memory and hope. But, He alone can give us this grace: may He send us the Holy Spirit to walk on this path.




Pope Francis       26.09.19  Holy Mass, Santa Marta         Haggai 1:1-8
Pope Francis  26.09.09

In the first reading from the Book of Haggai (1: 1-8) the Lord urges His people to reflect on their behaviour and to change it by working to rebuild the House of God.

The prophet Haggai, was trying to move the heart of the lazy people who had resigned themselves to a life of defeat. The Temple had been destroyed by enemies, all was in ruin, but those people let the years go by without taking any action.

Then, the Lord sent the prophet to rebuild the Temple, but the hearts of the people were bitter and they had no wish to take risks and to work.

Those people, did not want to pick themselves up, to start again. They would not let the Lord help them to do so, and their excuse was that the time had not yet come.

This, is the same drama of so many lukewarm Christians who say "Yes, yes, Lord, it's fine ... but slowly, slowly, Lord, let's leave it like this ... I’ll do it tomorrow!", to say the same tomorrow and postpone the day after tomorrow and so postpone the decisions of conversion of the heart and change of life ...

It is a fear that so often hides behind uncertainties and meanwhile postpones. It causes so many people to waste their lives and end up like a rag because they have done nothing except nurture sentiments of peace and calm within themselves. But that, is the peace of graveyards.

When we become spiritually lukewarm, we become half-Christians, without substance. Instead, the Lord wants conversion, today.

When we enter this tepore, in this attitude of spiritual lukewarmness, we turn our lives into a cemetery: there is no life.

All this happens to us with the little things that are not good that the Lord wants us to change. He asks us to for conversion and we answer him: tomorrow

Let us ask the Lord for the grace not to fall into that half-Christian spirit which makes us Christians without substance – or as the old ladies say "Rose water Christians", - Christians who perhaps have sown a lot but reaped very little, lives that promised so much, and in the end did nothing.

May the Lord help us, to wake-up from a tepid spirit and fight this gentle anaesthesia of spiritual life.



Pope Francis   16.12.19 Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)      Monday of the Third Week of Advent Year A     Matthew 21: 23-27

Pope Francis 16.12.19 Talks about Christians in front of a person who is begging

In todays Gospel (Mt 21:23-27) the chief priests confront Jesus about the origin of His teaching authority. Jesus turns the question around and asks his interrogators whether John the Baptist’s authority came from God. They claim not to know, and refuse to take a position on the matter. The chief priests’ questioning reveals two attitudes of lukewarm Christians: wanting to put God in a corner and to wash their hands of challenges.

These attitudes are dangerous because they are like challenging God. If the Lord put us in a corner, we would never go to Heaven.

Jesus strongly encouraged people, taught them, healed them and performed miracles, and so the chief priests became concerned, because with his kindness and dedication to people he attracted everyone to him. While they, the officials, were respected by the people, they did not approach them because they did not trust them. So they agree to put Jesus in the corner. And they ask him "By what authority are you doing these things?" In fact you are not a priest, not a doctor of law, you have not studied in our universities. You are nothing.

Jesus, wisely answers with another question and puts the chief priests in the corner, asking if John the Baptist baptized with an authority that came from heaven. Matthew describes their reasoning; "If we say ;'From heaven', he will say to us: 'Why did you not believe?', if we say: 'From men', people will turn against us'. And they wash their hands of it and say "We don't know". This is the attitude of the mediocre, the liars of the faith.

It was not only Pilate who washed his hands of Jesus; these also wash their hands: ‘We do not know.’ Do not enter into relationships with people, do not get involved in their problems, do not fight to do good, do not fight to heal the many people who are in need ... Better not. Let’s not get dirty.

Jesus responds with the same song: "Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things."

These are two attitudes of lukewarm Christians, of us – as my grandmother used to say – ‘rosewater Christians’: Christians without substance. One attidude is to put God in a corner: ‘Either you do this for me or I will not go to church anymore’. And how does Jesus respond? ‘Go, go. Deal with it yourself.’

The other attitude of lukewarm Christians is to wash our hands of everything, like the disciples traveling toward Emmaus on the morning of the Resurrection (Luke 24: 13-25). They did not trust the women who were all joyful because they had seen the Lord, and they wash their hands of them. And so they enter the brotherhood of Pilate.

Many Christians wash their hands when faced with the challenges posed by society, the challenges of history, the challenges of the people of our time; even in the face of the smallest challenges. How often do we hear the cheap Christian in front of a person who begs and does not give to them: ‘No, no I do not give because then they get drunk.’ They wash their hands. I don't want people to get drunk and want them not to beg. "But he has no food..." - "Make his own: I don't want him to get drunk". We hear it so many times, so many times. Putting God in a corner and washing one’s hands are two dangerous attitudes, because it's like challenging God. We can imagine what would happen if the Lord put us in a corner. We would never enter Heaven. And what would happen if the Lord was to wash His hands of us? Poor things.

They are two hypocritical attitudes of politeness. "No, this isn't. I do not meddle".

Let us look to see if there is something like that in us, and if there is, we kick out these attitudes to make room for the Lord who comes.