Rigid Christians


Rigid Christians

Pope Francis    


The Lord speaks to us of our foundation, the foundation of our Christian life”; and he tells us that this foundation is the rock”. We must therefore “build the house”, namely, our life, on the rock that is Christ. When St Paul speaks of the rock in the desert, he is referring to Christ. He is the only rock “that can give us security”, so that “we are all invited to build our life upon this rock of Christ. Not on any other”.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus also mentions to all who believe they can build their life on words alone: “Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus straight away suggests building our house upon the rock”. There are two classes of Christians in the history of the Church: the first, of whom to beware, are the “
Christians of words”, that is, those who limit themselves to repeating: 'Lord, Lord, Lord'. The second, the genuine Christians are “Christians of action and of truth”. There is always a temptation to live our Christianity away from the rock that is Christ; the only One who gives us the freedom to say “Father” to God; the only one who supports us in difficult moments”. Jesus himself says so with vivid examples: “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew”, but where “the rock is, there is safety”. On the contrary, when there are only “words, words fly, they are of no use”. One ends in fact facing the “temptation of these 'Christians of words': a Christianity without Jesus, a Christianity without Christ. And unfortunately “this happened and is still happening in the church today”.

This temptation, present in the Church's history in many different ways, has given life to various categories of “Christians without Christ”. The “light Christian”, who, “instead of loving the rock, loves beautiful words, beautiful words” and turns towards a “god of spray”, a “personal god”, with attitudes of superficiality and flimsiness”. This temptation still exists today: “superficial Christians who indeed believe in God”, but not in Jesus Christ, “the One who gives you a foundation”. Those who give into the temptation of a fluid Christianity are “the modern Gnostics”..

Those who believe that Christian life” must be taken so seriously” that they end by “confusing solidity and firmness with rigidity”. These “
rigid Christians”, “think that to be a Christian it is necessary to wear mourning”, and always “ take everything seriously”, paying attention to formalities, just as the scribes and Pharisees did. These are Christians for whom “everything is serious. They are today's Pelagians who believe in the firmness of faith and are convinced that “salvation is the way I do things”. “I must do them seriously” without any joy. They are very numerous. They are not Christians. They disguise themselves as Christians”.

In short, these two categories of believers – Gnostics and Pelagians – “do not know Jesus, they do not know who the Lord is, they do not know what the rock is, they have none of the freedom of Christians” Consequently, “they have no joy”.... And in addition to having no joy, they “have no freedom” either. “In their life there is no room for the Holy Spirit”.

Build our Christian life on the rock that gives us freedom” and “enables us to continue on Christ's path, following what he proposes”. Thus a grace to ask of the Lord is the ability “to go ahead in life as Christians, standing firm on the rock that is Jesus Christ and with the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us.” A grace to ask “in a special way of Our Lady. She knows what it means to be founded on the rock.



Pope Francis       16.10.18   Holy Mass  Santa Marta           Luke 11: 37-41
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/rigid-christians/16.10.18.jpg

They were truly an example of formality. But they lacked life. They were, so to speak, “starched.” They were rigid. And Jesus knew their soul. This scandalizes us, because they were scandalized by the things Jesus did when He forgave sins, when He healed on the Sabbath. They rent their garments: “Oh! What a scandal! This is not from God, because He should have done this” [instead]. The people didn’t matter to them: the Law mattered to them, the prescriptions, the rubrics.

Jesus, though, accepts the invitation of the Pharisee – because He is free – and He goes to him. The Pharisee was scandalized by His behaviour which went beyond the rules. But Jesus says to him, “You Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, [but] inside you are filled with plunder and evil.”

They are not beautiful words, eh? Jesus spoke clearly, He was not a hypocrite. He spoke clearly. And he said to them, “But why do you look at what is external? Look at what is within.” Another time He said to them, “You are whitened sepulchres.” Nice compliment, eh? Beautiful on the outside, all perfect… all perfect… but within, full of rottenness, therefore of greed, of wickedness, He says. Jesus distinguishes between appearances and internal reality. These lords are “doctors of appearances”: always perfect, always. But within, what is there?

Jesus condemned such people, as He did in the parable of the Good Samaritan, or when He denounced their ostentatious manner of fasting and almsgiving. This is because they were interested only in appearances. “Jesus describes these people with one word: ‘
hypocrites’.” They are people with greedy souls, capable of killing: “capable of paying to kill or calumniate, as happens every day. It happens today: they are paid to give bad news, news that smears others.

In a word, the Pharisees and doctors of the Law were rigid people, not disposed to change. But always, under or behind rigidity, there are problems, grave problems. We intend to have the appearance of being a good Christian; we intend to appear a certain way, we put make-up on our souls. However, behind these appearances, there are problems. Jesus is not there. The spirit of the world is there.

Jesus calls them “foolish” and advises them to open their souls to love in order for grace to enter. Because grace is a freely-given gift from God. No one saves himself, no one. No one saves himself, even with the practices of these people.

Be careful around those who are rigid. Be careful around
Christians – be they laity, priests, bishops – who present themselves as so “perfect,” rigid. Be careful. There’s no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of liberty. And let us be careful with ourselves, because this should lead us to consider our own life. Do I seek to look only at appearance, and not change my heart? Do I not open my heart to prayer, to the liberty of prayer, the liberty of almsgiving, the liberty of works of mercy?