“Many Christians wash their hands when faced with the challenges posed by society, history, or people of their time, even regarding the smallest difficulties”, Pope Francis has denounced.

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“How often do we hear about cheap Christians who refuse to give alms to one who asks for it: ‘No, I won’t give anything because he will just get drunk'”, the pontiff deplored December 16 in the homily of his morning Mass in his Vatican residence, the Casa Santa Marta.

These “cheap” Christians “wash their hands” of their brothers and sisters in need, the Pope lamented.

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Francis’ sermon this morning was centred on the chief priests and the Jewish elders who in Matthew’s Gospel (21:23-27) question Jesus’ teaching authority.

Jesus turned the tables on his interrogators and asked where the authority of John the Baptist came from.

The priests and elders didn’t want to admit John’s authority was of either divine or human origin: first, because they didn’t believe him, but second, because they were afraid of his supporters.

The Pope called that middle-of-the-road position “a mediocre attitude” and “one taken by liars of the faith”.

“It was not only Pilate who washed his hands of Jesus; these men do so too: ‘We do not know'”, Francis went on to denounce of the priests and elders but also of other mean-spirited believers.

“Not entering into relationship with others, not getting involved in their problems, not fighting for their rights, not fighting to heal the many people who are in need, saying ‘It’s best not to. Let’s not dirty our hands with this'”.

These are just some attitudes of “lukewarm” faithful, the Pope decried, or of what he said his grandmother called “rosewater Christians”.

“Christians without substance. One puts God in a corner: ‘Either you do this for me or I won’t go to Church anymore’. And how does Jesus respond? ‘Okay, go. Deal with it yourself'”.

Why it matters

“Putting God in a corner and washing one’s hands are two dangerous attitudes, because they are like challenging God”, the Pope warned in his homily.

“We can imagine what would happen if the Lord put us in a corner. We would never enter Paradise. And what would happen if the Lord washed His hands of us? Poor things”, Francis warned.

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