Pope Francis has used his grandmother’s Carnival biscuits to make faithful better understand hypocrisy, in the way she used to explain it to him and his siblings as children.
During his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, Francis drew his inspiration from today’s readings which show how dangerous being hypocritical can be, warning Christians against the Pharisees’ leaven, reported Vatican Radio.
Recalling there exists good leaven and bad leaven, Francis stressed that while the good builds up the Kingdom of God, the latter only creates its appearance.
While good leaven “always rises and grows in a consistent and substantial manner” and “becomes a good bread, a good pastry,” bad leaven, he cautioned, does not grow well.
“I remember that for Carnival, when we were children,” Francis recalled, “our grandmother made biscuits and it was a very thin, thin, thin pastry that she made. Afterwards, she placed it in the oil and that pastry swelled and swelled and when we began to eat it, it was empty. And our grandmother told us that in the dialect they were called lies – ‘these are like lies: they seem big but there’s nothing inside them, there’s nothing true there, there’s nothing of substance.’”
“And Jesus tells us,” the Pope continued, “‘Beware of bad leaven, that of the Pharisees.’ And what is that? It’s hypocrisy. Be on your guard against the Pharisees’ leaven which is hypocrisy.”
Hypocrisy, the Holy Father pointed out, is when we invoke God with our lips, but our hearts are distant from Him.
“Hypocrisy is an internal division. We say one thing and we do another. It’s a kind of spiritual schizophrenia,” the Holy Father said. “In addition, hypocrisy is a dissembler: they seem good and polite but they have a dagger behind their backs, right?”
“Look at Herod: terrified inside but how politely he received the Magi! And then when he was bidding them farewell, he told them: ‘Go on your way and then come back and tell me where this child can be found so that I can go and worship him!’ To kill him! He’s a two-faced hypocrite, a pretender. Jesus when speaking to the doctors of the law, said: these say this and don’t do it:’ this is another type of hypocrisy.”
Francis called this phenomenon of people saying things and thinking that’s enough, without substance behind the words, “existential nominalism.” The Pope stressed, “Things must be done not just said.”
“In addition,” he added, “the hypocrite is unable to accuse him or herself: they never find a stain on themselves, they accuse others.Think about the splinter and the log right? And it’s in this way that we can describe that leaven which is hypocrisy.”
The Holy Father encouraged Christians to examine their consciences to understand “whether they are growing with good or bad leaven” by asking themselves:
- “With what spirit am I doing things?
- With what spirit am I praying? With what spirit do I turn to others? With a spirit that builds? Or with a spirit that becomes air?”
Francis highlighted that the important thing is to truthful, and not to lie nor deceive others.
“How truthful children are when they confess their sins!” the Pontiff pointed out. “Children never ever tell a lie during confession; they never talk about abstract things. ‘I’ve done this, I’ve done that, I’ve done……’ Concrete things. Children talk about concrete things when they are in front of God and in front of other people.”
“Why is that?” he urged those present to consider. “It’s because they have good leaven, leaven that makes them grow like the Kingdom of God grows. May the Lord give all of us the Holy Spirit and the grace of that lucidity to discern with which leaven I am growing, with which leaven I am behaving. ”
Pope Francis concluded, urging all faithful to recognize whether they are being loyal, transparent people, or ‘hypocrites,’ and encouraged them imitate childlike truthfulness.