Pope Francis: Sloth and Formality Paralyze Apostolic Zeal

Reflects on Spiritual Illnesses That Negatively Impact the Church

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In his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis warned of the damage that can be done by “anesthetized Christians” who have no apostolic zeal for the Gospel.

The Pope reflected on the Gospel of St. John, which recalled Jesus’ healing of a crippled man on the Sabbath. The Holy Father noted that the attitude of crippled man, resigned to his illness, and the Pharisees who criticized the healing on a Sabbath day, manifest two “spiritual illnesses”.

Regarding the first spiritual illness, the Pope said that today there are many Christians, as well as Catholics, who live their faith without enthusiasm, and at times, embittered.

“It is the sickness of sloth, of the laziness of Christians,” he said. “This attitude is paralyzing to apostolic zeal, makes Christians a people at a standstill, but not in the good sense of the word. They do not worry to go out to give the proclamation of the Gospel! Anesthetized people.”

Spiritual sloth, he went on to say, is sad since it causes Christians to have a negative outlook on life. These Christians who have no apostolic zeal, are useless and are not good for the Church. “This is the sin of sloth, which is against the apostolic zeal, against the desire to give the news of Jesus to others, that news that has been given freely,” he said.

The second spiritual illness, the Holy Father continued, is the sin of formality. This illness leaves no space for the grace of God to act. Those who live in this formality, he said, are “hypocritical Christians.”

“It was the Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God does not work on the Sabbath. They close the door to the grace of God. We have so many [like this] in the Church: we have so many! It is another sin,” he said.

These two attitudes must be known in order to defend ourselves from falling into that mentality. In front of these spiritual illnesses, he said, Jesus only asks if we wish to be healed.

“The two Christian words: “vuoi guarire?” (Do you want to be healed?),” the Pope said. “First He heals him, then says ‘sin no more.’ Words that are said with tenderness, with love.”

Pope Francis, concluding his homily, invited the faithful present to continue along the Christian path. This path of Apostolic zeal, he said, allows us “to be close to many people, wounded in this field hospital, and also many times wounded by men and women of the Church.” (J.A.E.)

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