Pope Francis: Inconsistent Christians Cause Scandal

Reflects on What It Means to Bear Witness to Christ

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“Christians that are not consistent are giving scandal.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass today at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation during the Mass.

A person who receives the Sacrament, he said, manifests a desire to be a Christian. In order to be Christian, one must bear witness to Jesus.

“A Christian is a person who thinks like a Christian, feels like a Christian and acts like a Christian. And this is consistency in the life of a Christian,” he said. However, the Holy Father noted if one of those aspects is missing, then “there’s a certain inconsistency.” Those who are inconsistent are the ones that do harm.

The Pope reflected on the first reading from the Apostle James who denounced people who claimed to be Christian but who swindled of their employees.

“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 reading states.

“If one hears this, someone might think: ‘But a communist has said this!’ the Pope exclaimed. “No, no, the Apostle James said it! It is the Word of the Lord. It’s inconsistent. And when there is no Christian consistency, and you live with this inconsistency, you’re giving scandal. And the Christians that are not consistent are giving scandal.”

The Holy Father also commented on the Gospel which recounted Christ’s warning to those who cause scandal. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,  it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea,” Christ says.

“An inconsistent Christian does so much harm. Scandal kills,” the Pope stressed. “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 is because of inconsistency.”

“If you find yourself in front of – imagine! – in front of an atheist,” the Pope continued, “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 consistent 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 consistent.’”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray to live a consistent Christian life, which is a gift from God. If one does fall because of weakness, he said, 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!’” he said. (J.A.E.)

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