“And let us be careful with ourselves for this should lead us to think about our own life. Do I seek to look only at appearances, and not change my heart? Do I not open my heart to prayer, to the freedom of prayer, the freedom of almsgiving, the freedom of works of mercy?”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis centred his homily this morning in Casa Santa Marta on the Gospel (Lk 11:37-41) that tells how Jesus, invited to dinner by a Pharisee, did not perform the ablutions required by the law.
Jesus warns against those who focus on appearances, “be they laity, priests, bishops”, as well as those who present themselves as “perfect” but do not open up their heart to Jesus.
In reacting to the Pharisee’s “astonishment”, Jesus says: ““Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.”
“These are not beautiful words, eh?” Francis said. “Jesus spoke clearly, He was not a hypocrite. He spoke clearly. And he said to them, ‘But why do you look at what is outside? Look at what is inside.’ Again, He said to them, ‘You are whitewashed tombs.’ A nice compliment, eh? Beautiful on the outside, all perfect… all perfect… but inside, full of rottenness, hence of greed, wickedness, He says. Jesus distinguishes appearances from inner reality. These gentlemen are ‘doctors of appearances’: always perfect, always. But what is there inside?”
Pope Francis went on to say that the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law are rigid people, unwilling to change. “But always, under or behind rigidity, there are problems, serious problems,” the Pope said. “Behind the appearance of a good Christian – appearance let’s be clear, always trying to appear [in a certain way], to put make-up on our souls – there are problems. Jesus is not there. The spirit of the world is there.”
Jesus calls them “foolish” and advises them to open up their souls to love in order to let grace inside. Because “grace is a freely-given gift from God. No one can save themselves, no one. No one can save themselves, even with the habits of these people.”
In a final warning, the pontiff said, “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 is no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of freedom. And let us be careful with ourselves for this should lead us to think about our own life. Do I seek to look only at appearances, and not change my heart? Do I not open my heart to prayer, to the freedom of prayer, the freedom of almsgiving, the freedom of works of mercy?”