Here is Pope Francis’ commentary on last Sunday’s Gospel.
ANGELUS: THE DANGER OF BECOMING “WATERED-DOWN” CHRISTIANS
Vatican City, 1 September 2014 (VIS) – At midday the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and commented on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus, “after having confirmed that Peter and the other eleven believed in Him as the Messiah and the Son of God, began to explain to them that He had to go to Jerusalem where He would suffer greatly, be killed, and rise again on the third day”. He remarked, “It is a critical moment in which Jesus’ and the disciples’ method of thinking emerges”.
The Apostle Paul also insists upon this theme in this Sunday’s liturgy in his Letter to the Romans, when he affirms that Christians must not conform to this world without transforming it to discern the will of God.
“In effect”, he continued, “we Christians live in the world, fully integrated in the social and cultural reality of our time, and it is right that it is so; however, this carries the risk that we become ‘worldly’, that the salt loses its flavour, as Jesus would say; that is, that the Christian is ‘watered down’, losing the inspiration of newness that comes from the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Instead, they should be the opposite: when the strength of the Gospel remains alive in Christians, they can transform “mankind’s criteria of judgement, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life”, emphasised the Pope, quoting Paul VI.
“It is sad to meet Christians who are watered down, like wine; you cannot tell whether they are Christians or worldly, like watered wine; it is impossible to tell whether it is wine or water. It is sad to meet Christians who are no longer the salt of the earth … because they have committed themselves to the spirit of this world, that is, they have become worldly. Therefore, it is necessary to renew oneself continuously, to draw lymph from the Gospel … by reading and meditating the Gospel every day, so the word of Jesus may always be present in our life”, emphasised the Pontiff, reminding those present always to carry a copy of the Gospel with their pockets or handbags, and to read a passage every day.
Renewal also comes from participation in Sunday Mass, “where we find the Lord in the community, listening to His Word and receiving the Eucharist which unites us to Him and one another”, as well as in days of retreat and spiritual exercises.
He concluded, “Thanks to these gifts from the Lord, we can conform not to the world, but to Christ, and to follow Him on His path, the path of ‘losing one’s own life’ in order to find it. offering it for love and in love – and this involves sacrifice, even unto the cross – to receive it again purified, freed of selfishness and from the debt of death, full of eternity”.