Pope Francis strongly condemned hypocrisy during his homily at Mass this morning in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Holy Father concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the prefect and secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.
Also concelebrating were Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia and Bishop Jean Lafitte, the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council of the Family. Members of the Congregation of Bishops and of the Pontifical Council of the Family were also in attendance at the Mass.
Reflecting on Christ’s words in the Gospel of St. Matthew, the Holy Father compared the behavior of the scribes and Pharisees with the Jesus’ instruction on the proper manner to behave when giving alms and praying. In their hypocrisy, the Pope said, the Pharisees “don’t have the intelligence to find God, to explain God with understanding, and so prevent themselves and others from entering into the Kingdom of God.”
“Jesus says: ‘You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to others.’ They are ethicists without goodness, they do not know what goodness is. But they are ethicists, aren’t they? ‘You have to do this, and this, and this . . .’ They fill you with precepts, but without goodness.
Pope Francis also noted another form of hypocrisy: those who use Christian piety to elevate themselves. “The Lord speaks about fasting, about prayer, about almsgiving: the three pillars of Christian piety, of interior conversion, that the Church proposes to us all in Lent,” the Holy Father said.
“There are even hypocrites along this path, who make a show of fasting, of giving alms, of praying. I think that when hypocrisy reaches this point in the relation with God, we are coming very close to the sin against the Holy Spirit. These do not know beauty, they do not know love, these do not know the truth: they are small, cowardly.”
The 76 year old Pontiff also spoke candidly on hypocrisy within the Church and “ how bad it makes all of us.” Pope Francis told the faithful that it is important to look at the example of the publican mentioned in the Gospel who prayed: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, a sinner.”
“This is the prayer we should say every day, knowing that we are sinners but with concrete sins, not theoretical [sin],” the Holy Father concluded.
“But all of us also have grace, the grace that comes from Jesus Christ: the grace of joy; the grace of magnanimity, of largesse. Hypocrites do not know what joy is, what largesse is, what magnanimity is.”