(Source: MJ/Vatican News)

Pope Francis began his Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning recalling heroes of the coronavirus fight:

“I received the news that in these days, a number of doctors and priests have died, I don’t know if there were a few nurses. They were infected… because they were serving the sick. Let’s pray for them, for their families. I thank God for the example of heroism they give us in caring for the sick.”

He then reflected on the theme of water suggested by the readings of the fourth Tuesday of Lent (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; John 5 1-16).

Water heals

Pope Francis began his homily saying that the day’s readings present water as a sign and means of salvation.

This water brings life, and heals the “waters of the sea”, making it “new water”.

It is beside a pool of water that Jesus encounters a paralyzed man. He’d been waiting to be healed beside that water for 38 years. Pope Francis then delved into the incongruity of a man who waited that long without doing anything to help himself.

 “It makes us think. It’s a bit long, isn’t it? Because someone who wants to be healed would have organized things so that someone would help him…”

The paralysis of tepidity

His response also makes us wonder. “He doesn’t say ‘Yes’; he complains. About the illness? No”, the Pope said. Neither do we see him jumping for joy or “telling the whole world” as others did after they were healed. He doesn’t even thank Jesus when they meet up again in the Temple. Rather, he goes off to inform the authorities. What’s wrong with this man?

“His heart was sick. His soul was sick. He was ailing from pessimism… from sadness… from tepidity (acedia).

“This is the man’s sickness. ‘Yes, I want to live’, and he just stayed there. Is his response: ‘Yes, I would like to be healed’? No, it’s ‘it’s always the others that get there first’. It’s always the others. The response to Jesus’s offer of healing is complaining about the others… for 38 years… doing nothing to be healed”.

Surviving not living

The Pope went on to describe this as a “sin of surviving and complaining about others’ lives”. It inhibits this man from “making any decisions for his own life”.

“‘I’m a victim of this life’. These type of people breathe by complaining,” the Pope remarked.

We do not see the “joy and decisiveness” that the man blind from birth had after being healed.

“Many of us Christians live in this state of tepidity”, the Pope said.

“They are incapable of doing a lot but they complain about everything. Tepidity is poison. It’s a fog that surrounds the soul that doesn’t allow it to live.

“It’s also a drug because if you taste it often, you like it. You end up addicted to sadness, addicted to tepidity…. This is a fairly habitual sin among us. Sadness, tepidity…. I’m not going to say melancholy, but it’s very similar…. It is a gray life, gray because of this bad spirit of tepidity, sadness, melancholy”.

The waters of Baptism makes us new

Pope Francis concluded his homily encouraging us to reread the 5th chapter of John.

“Let’s think of water, that water that is the symbol of our strength, of our life – the water that Jesus used to regenerate us in Baptism.

“Let’s also think about ourselves – if there is the danger that one of us might slip into this tepidity, into this “neutral” sin – neither black nor white…. This is a sin that the devil can use to drown our spiritual life and our personal life.

“May the Lord help us understand how awful and evil this sin is.”

On Novena, the Pope’s daily Mass in coronavirus times:

23/3: Pope prays in Santa Marta Mass for economic victims of coronavirus, urges “perseverance and courage”

22/3: Pope offer prayers in Santa Marta Mass for lonely coronavirus dying and their families

21/3: Santa Marta Mass: Francis prays for “peace in families” during coronavirus lockdown, warns against praying “to a mirror”

20/3: Is remote confession, absolution possible in coronavirus times? Pope, priest canon lawyer weigh in

19/3: Santa Marta Mass: Pope prays for prisoners “suffering” coronavirus “uncertainty”, warns Church against “rules and regulations”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.