Pope to Christians: Practice what you preach

2014-02-27 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The incoherent Christian gives scandal, and scandal kills: those were the very strong words Pope Francis used today in his homily at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

The Holy Father took his cue from a Confirmation administered during the Mass. The person who receives this Sacrament, Pope Francis said, “manifested the desire to be a Christian. To be Christian means to bear witness to Jesus Christ.” A Christian is a person who “thinks like a Christian, feels like a Christian and acts like a Christian. And this is coherency in the life of a Christian. Someone can be said to have faith, “but if one of these things is missing, he is not a Christian, there’s something wrong, there’s a certain incoherence. And Christians “who ordinarily, commonly live in incoherence, do so much harm”:

“We heard what the Apostle Saint James says to some incoherent people who boasted of being Christian, but took advantage of their employees. He says, ‘Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.’ The Lord strong. If one hears this, someone might think: ‘But a communist has said this!’ No, no, the Apostle James said it! It is the Word of the Lord. It’s incoherent. And when there is no Christian coherency, and you live with this incoherence, you’re giving scandal. And the Christians that are not coherent are giving scandal.”

Jesus, the Pope said, “speaks so strongly against scandal: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me,’ even one of these brothers, these sisters that have faith, ‘it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.’” An incoherent Christian, he said, “does so much harm. Scandal kills.” He continued, “So many times we’ve heard ‘But Father, I believe in God, but not in the Church, because you Christians say one thing and do another.’ And also, ‘I believe in God, but not in you.’” This, he said, “Is because of inconsistency:

“If you find yourself in front of – imagine! - in front of an atheist and he tells you he doesn’t believe in God, you can read him a whole library, where it says that God exists and even proving that God exists, and he will not have faith. But if in the presence of this atheist you bear coherent witness of Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart. It will be your witness that that he will bring this restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works. It’s a grace that we all, the whole Church must ask for: ‘Lord, [grant] that we might be coherent.’”

And so, the Pope concludes, we must pray, because to live in a coherent Christian way, prayer is necessary; because Christian coherency is a gift from God and we must ask for it. “Lord, grant that I might be consistent! Lord, grant that I might never cause scandal, that I might be a person who thinks like a Christian, who feels like a Christian, who acts like a Christian.” And when we fall because of our weakness, let us ask for forgiveness:

“We are all sinners, all of us, but we all have the ability to ask for forgiveness. And He never gets tired of forgiving! Have the humility to ask for forgiveness: ‘Lord, I have not been consistent here. Forgive me!’ Go forward in life with Christian coherence, with the witness of one who believes in Jesus Christ, who knows that he is a sinner, but who has the courage to ask for forgiveness when he makes mistakes and who so afraid of giving scandal. May the Lord give this grace to all of us.