Pope Francis devoted his remarks at the General Audience today to the concrete signs of Christian community and to their enemy: hypocrisy.
Driving the news
“To fail in the sincerity of sharing, in fact, or to fail in the sincerity of love, means cultivating hypocrisy, distancing oneself from the truth, becoming selfish, extinguishing the fire of communion and fating oneself to the chill of inner death”, the Pope warned pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.
“Those who behave in this way pass through the Church like tourists”, Francis insisted, before lamenting that “a life based only on making a profit and taking advantage of situations to the detriment of others inevitably causes inner death”.
“How many people say they are close to the Church, friends of priests, bishops while only seeking their own interests? These are the hypocrisies that destroy the Church!”, Francis denounced.
In contrast to these hypocrisies, there is a “dynamism of solidarity that builds the Church as the family of God”, the Pope explained.
“Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible for each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible for each other”, Francis insisted.
Among the earliest Christians, “love was the way. But not love in words, not fake love: love in works, helping one another, concrete love, the concreteness of love. The bond with Christ establishes a bond between brothers that flows together and expresses itself also in the communion of material goods”, he added.
Why it matters
It is precisely in the sharing of material goods that one recognises a true Christian, the Pope said.
“The sign that a heart has converted is when that conversion reaches the wallet… That’s where we see if one is generous with others, if one helps the weakest, the poorest. When the conversion arrives there, we can be sure that it is a true conversion. If it remains only in words it is not a good conversion”.
But it is not only a question of giving money, Francis affirmed, adding that a good Christian also gives of his or her time.
“How many Christians – you, for example, here in Italy – how many Christians are volunteers! This is beautiful! It is communion, sharing my time with others, to help those in need. And so volunteering, the works of charity, the visits to the sick: one must always share with others, and not just look for one’s own interests”, the Pope said.
Francis concluded his catechesis calling on Christians “to overcome all hypocrisy, and to put into circulation that truth that nourishes Christian solidarity, which, far from being a social assistance activity, is the inalienable expression of the nature of the Church, tender mother of all, especially the poorest”.