Lukewarm Christians

Lukewarm Christians - Pope Francis     


Pope Francis   31.08.14  Angelus, St Peter's Square       22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A          Romans 12: 1-2,       Matthew 16: 21-27


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Sunday’s reading from the Gospel according to Matthew brings us to the critical point at which Jesus, after having ascertained that Peter and the other eleven believed in Him as the Messiah and Son of God, “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things..., and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (16:21). It is a critical moment at which the contrast between Jesus’ way of thinking and that of the disciples emerges. Peter actually feels duty bound to admonish the Master because the Messiah could not come to such an ignominious end. Then Jesus, in turn, severely rebukes Peter and puts him in his place, because he is “not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23), unintentionally playing the part of Satan, the tempter. In the liturgy for this Sunday the Apostle Paul also stresses this point when he writes to the Christians in Rome, telling them: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

Indeed, we Christians live in the world, fully integrated into the social and cultural reality of our time, and rightly so; but this brings with it the risk that we might become “worldly”, that “the salt might lose its taste”, as Jesus would say (cf. Mt 5:13). In other words, the Christian could become “watered down”, losing the charge of newness which comes to him from the Lord and from the Holy Spirit. Instead it should be the opposite: when the power of the Gospel remains alive in Christians, it can transform “criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life” (Paul VI Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 19). It is sad to find “watered-down” Christians, who seem like watered-down wine. One cannot tell whether they are Christian or worldly, like watered-down wine; one cannot tell whether it is wine or water! This is sad. It is sad to find Christians who are no longer the salt of the earth, and we know that when salt loses its taste, it is no longer good for anything. Their salt has lost its taste because they have delivered themselves up to the spirit of the world, that is, they have become worldly.

This is why it is necessary to renew oneself by continually drawing sap from the Gospel. And how can one do this in practice? First of all by actually reading and meditating on the Gospel every day, so the Word of Jesus may always be present in our life. Remember: it will help you to always carry the Gospel with you: a small Gospel, in a pocket, in a bag, and read a passage during the day. But always with the Gospel, because it is carrying the Word of Jesus, and being able to read it. In addition, attending Sunday Mass, where we encounter the Lord in the community, we hear his Word and receive the Eucharist which unites us with Him and to one another; and then days of retreat and spiritual exercises are very important for spiritual renewal. Gospel, Eucharist, Prayer. Do not forget: Gospel, Eucharist, Prayer. Thanks to these gifts of the Lord we are able to conform not to the world but to Christ, and follow him on his path, the path of “losing one’s life” in order to find it (Mt 16:25). “To lose it” in the sense of giving it, offering it through love and in love — and this leads to sacrifice, also the cross — to receive it liberated from selfishness and from the mortgage of death, newly purified, full of eternity.

May the Virgin Mary always go before us on this journey; let us be guided and accompanied by her.





"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.




Pope Francis  29.04.20 Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)    Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter    1 John 1: 5 - 2: 2

Pope Francis Talks about Sin 29.04.20

Today is the feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Europe. Let us pray for Europe, for the unity of Europe, for the unity of the European Union: so that together we can move forward as brothers and sisters.

In the first letter of St. John the Apostle there are many contrasts: between light and darkness, between lie and truth, between sin and innocence. But the Apostle always calls us to concreteness, to the truth, and tells us that we cannot be in communion with Jesus and walk in darkness, because He is light. It's either one thing or the other: grey is even worse, because grey makes you believe that you are walking in the light, because you are not in darkness and this reassures you. Grey is very treacherous. Neither one thing nor the other.

The Apostle goes on to say: "If we say we are sinless, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us", because we have all sinned, we are all sinners. And here there is one thing that can deceive us: to say "we are all sinners", as we say "hello", "good morning", a usual thing, even a social thing, and so we do not have a true consciousness of sin. No: I am a sinner because of this, this and this. Concreteness. The concreteness of the truth: the truth is always concrete; Lies are ethereal, they're like air, you can't catch them. The truth is concrete. And you can't go and confess your sins in an abstract way: "Yes, I ... yes, once I lost patience, another ...", and abstract things. "I am a sinner." concreteness: "I did this. I thought this. That's what I said." Concreteness is what makes me feel like a true sinner and not a sinner in the air.

Jesus says in the Gospel: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the little ones." The concreteness of the little ones. It is beautiful to listen to the little ones when they come to confession: they do not say strange things, in the air; they say concrete things, and sometimes too concrete because they have that simplicity that God gives to the little ones. I always remember a child who once came to tell me that he was sad because he had quarrelled with his aunt. But then he went on. I said, "What did you do?" – "Oh well, I was at home, I wanted to go and play football – he was a child. "But the aunt, mum was not there, says, "No, don't go out: you have to do your homework first." And then he said one word after another. And in the end he told her to go where the pepper grows and because he was a child of great geographical culture, he even called her the name of the place to which he wanted his aunt to be sent! They are like this: simple, concrete.

We too must be simple, concrete: concreteness leads you to humility, because humility is concrete. "We are all sinners" is an abstract thing. No: "I am a sinner for this, this and this", and this makes me ashamed to look at Jesus: "Forgive me". The true attitude of the sinner. And if we say we are sinless, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. This abstract attitude is one way of saying that we are sinless : "Yes, we are sinners, yes, I lost patience once ...", but all in the air. I don't realize the reality of my sins. "But, you know, everybody, we all do these things, I'm sorry, I'm sorry ... it gives me pain, I don't want to do it anymore, I don't want to say it anymore, I don't want to think about it anymore." It is important that we, within ourselves, give names to our sins. Concreteness. Because if we keep them in the air, we will end up in darkness. Let's be like the little ones, who say what they feel, what they think: they have not yet learned the art of saying things a little wrapped up so that they are understood without them saying. This is an art of the big people, which so often does us no good.

Yesterday I received a letter from a boy from Caravaggio. His name is Andrea. And he told me things about him: the letters of boys, of children are beautiful, for their concreteness. And he told me that he had heard Mass on television and that he had to "reprove me" for one thing: that I say "Peace be with you", "and you cannot say this because with the pandemic we cannot touch each other". He doesn't see that you do this with your head and don't touch each other. But the freedom to say things as they are.
We too, with the grace of the Lord, have the freedom to say things as they are: "Lord, I am in sin: help me." Like Peter after the first miraculous catch: "Get away from me, Lord, for I am a sinner." To have this wisdom of concreteness. Because the devil wants us to live in tepidly, lukewarm, in the grey: neither good nor bad, nor white nor black: grey. A life doesn't please the Lord. The Lord doesn't like lukewarm people. Concreteness. Not to be a liar. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just forgives us: he forgives us when we are concrete. Spiritual life is so simple, so simple; but we make it complicated with these nuances, and in the end we never arrive.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace of simplicity and for Him to give us this grace that he gives to the simple, the children, the young people who say what they feel, who do not hide what they feel. Even if it's wrong, but they say it. Even with him, saying things: transparency. And don't live a life that's not one thing or the other. The grace of freedom to say these things and also the grace to know well who we are before God.





Pope Francis  05.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)   Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter     John 10: 22-30

Pope Francis Part of the sheep of Jesus 05.05.20

Let us pray today for the deceased who have died because of the pandemic. They died alone. They died without the caress of their loved ones. So many of them did not even have a funeral. May the Lord receive them in glory.


Jesus was in the temple, the feast of Easter was near (John 10:22-30). Even the Jews, at that time, came around him and said, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly" (10: 24). They would make some lose patience, but Jesus meekly answered them, "I told you and you do not believe" (10: 25). They kept saying. "But is it you? Is it you?" and Jesus said "Yes, I told you, but you do not believe" "But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep" (10:26). And this, perhaps, raises a doubt: I believe and I am a part of the sheep of Jesus. But if Jesus said to us: "You cannot believe because you are not a part?".. What is this to be part of Jesus' faith? What is the thing that stops me in front of the door that is Jesus? 

There are pre-confession attitudes, even for us, who are in the flock of Jesus.. that do not let us go forward in the knowledge of the Lord. The first of all is wealth. So many of us, who have entered through the door of the Lord, then stop and do not move forward because we are imprisoned by wealth. The Lord was hard, with wealth: he was very hard, very hard. To the point of saying that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 19:24). That's hard. Wealth is an impediment to moving forward. But should we fall into poverty? No. But do not be slaves to wealth, do not live for wealth, because riches are a lord, they are the lord of this world and we cannot serve two lords (cf. Luke 16:13). And wealth stop us.

Another thing that prevents us from moving forward in the knowledge of Jesus, and in belonging to Jesus, is rigidity: the rigidity of the heart. Even the rigidity in the interpretation of the Law. Jesus reproached the Pharisees, the doctors of the Law for this rigidity ( Mt 23: 1-36). That is not fidelity: faithfulness is always a gift of God; rigidity is a security for myself. I remember once when I walked into a parish and a lady – a good lady – came up to me and said, "Father, a piece of advice..." – "Say ..." – "Last week, Saturday, not yesterday, the other Saturday, we went as a family to a wedding: it was with Mass. It was Saturday afternoon, and we thought that with this Mass we had fulfilled the Sunday precept. But then, on my way home, I thought the Readings of that Mass were not the ones of Sunday. And so I realized that I am in mortal sin, because I did not go on Sunday because I went Saturday, but to a Mass that was not right, because the readings were not right." That's rigidity. And that lady belonged to a church movement. Rigidity. This distances us from the wisdom of Jesus, from the beauty of Jesus; it takes away your freedom. And so many pastors make this rigidity grow in the souls of the faithful, and this rigidity does not allow us enter through the door of Jesus (John 1: 7). Is it more important to observe the law as it is written or how I interpret it, rather than the freedom to move forward following Jesus?

Another thing that does not let us go forward in the knowledge of Jesus is the apathy. That tiredness. Let's think of that man at the pool: there 38 years (cf. John 5: 1-9). It's apathy. It takes away the will to go on and everything is "yes, but ... no, now no, no, but ...", it makes you tepid and makes you lukewarm. Apathy, it's another thing that keeps us from moving forward.

Another that is quite ugly is a clerical attitude. Clericalism puts itself in the place of in Jesus. It says: "No, this must be so, so..." – "But, the Master ..." – "Leave the Master aside: this is so, so, so, and if you do not do so, so, so you cannot enter." A clericalism that takes away the freedom of the faith of believers. It is a disease, in the church: the clerical attitude.

Then, another thing that prevents us from moving forward, of coming in to know Jesus and confessing Jesus is the worldly spirit. When the observance of faith, the practice of faith ends in worldliness. And everything is worldly. Let us think of the celebration of some sacraments in some parishes: how much worldliness there is there! And the grace of Jesus' presence is not well understood.

These are the things that stop us from being part of Jesus' sheep. We are "sheep" of all these things: wealth, apathy, rigidity, worldliness, clericalism, ideologies.. Freedom is lacking. And you cannot follow Jesus without freedom. But sometimes freedom goes too far and one slips: yes, it is true. It's true. We can slip on the way of freedom. But it is worse to slip before you go, with these things that prevent you from starting to go towards Jesus.

May the Lord enlightens us to see within us if there is the freedom to pass through the door that is Jesus and go beyond; to become a flock, to become sheep of his flock.