Pope Francis on September 10, 2018, recalled the tough words of St. Paul from the fifth chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians:
Brothers and sisters:
It is widely reported that there is immorality among you,
and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans–
a man living with his father’s wife.
And you are inflated with pride.
Should you not rather have been sorrowful?
The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.
I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit,
have already, as if present,
pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed,
in the name of our Lord Jesus:
when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit
with the power of the Lord Jesus,
you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh,
so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not appropriate.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The Holy Father made his comments during his morning homily at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican, as reported by Vatican News. The Pope admitted that Paul rebuked the local Christians with harsh words.
“The newness of the Gospel, the newness of Christ is not only transforming our soul; it is transforming our whole being: soul, spirit and body, all of it, everything: that is, transforming the vine – the leaven – into new wineskins, also everything,” Francis explained. “The newness of the Gospel is absolute, is total; it takes all of us, because it transforms from the inside out: the spirit, the body, and everyday life.
“And so many people seek to live their Christianity ‘on novelties’: [They say,] ‘But today, it can be done this way; no today we can live like this.’ And these people who live out the novelties that are proposed by the world are worldly; they don’t accept all the newness [of the Gospel]. There is a distinction between the ‘newness’ of Jesus Christ, and the ‘novelties’ that the world proposes to us as a way of living.”
The Pope goes on to stress that Paul called the people of Corinth “lukewarm people, immoral people… people who dissemble, formal people, hypocritical people.” But the “newness” of Jesus could bring them salvation.
“The path of those who take up the newness of Jesus Christ is the same as that of Jesus: the path towards martyrdom,” the Pope concluded. “We are on a path, and we are watched by the great accuser who raises up the accusers of today to catch us in contradiction.”