God gives us the gift of salvation and the “spirit of liberty” – but we need to watch out for hypocrites.
That was the theme of Pope Francis’ homily on October 16, 2018, at Mass in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. His remarks were reported by Vatican News.
The Holy Father said that hypocrites are not open to God’s grace. He cited the Pharisees, building his thoughts on the gospel of the day from the 11th chapter of Luke:
After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
“They were truly an example of formality. But they lacked life. They were, so to speak, ‘starched.’ They were rigid.” Francis explained. “And Jesus knew their soul. This scandalizes us because they were scandalized by the things Jesus did when He forgave sins when He healed on the Sabbath. They rent their garments: ‘Oh! What a scandal! This is not from God, because He should have done this’. The people didn’t matter to them: the Law mattered to them, the prescriptions, the rubrics.”
Pope Francis pointed out that the common people loved Jesus because he touched their hearts, not because he followed the rules perfectly, as the Pharisees purported to do. And the Holy Father warned of those who are rigid in their approach to the faith:
“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’s no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of liberty. And let us be careful with ourselves because this should lead us to consider our own life. Do I seek to look only at appearance, and not change my heart? Do I not open my heart to prayer, to the liberty of prayer, the liberty of almsgiving, the liberty of works of mercy?”