6th March

Today’s first reading speaks about living Gospel values, honesty and personal integrity – see below.

Last Thursday Pope Francis created a stir when he spoke about the scandal caused by Christians who don’t live the message. Here is a summary from www.cnn.com

Jesus BibleIf you’re a Christian who exploits people, leads a double life or manages a “dirty” business, perhaps it’s better not to call yourself a believer, Pope Francis suggested in a homily on Thursday in Rome.

“So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard — all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere — ‘But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that: scandal.”

“But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another.”

In the Catholic Church, causing scandal also a grave offense.

Examples of such sins abound, the Pope said, from money launderers to business owners who take beach vacations while stiffing their employees.

Francis’ sermon, as is customary, was an extended riff on Thursday’s Mass readings, which include a passage from the Gospel on Mark. In it, Jesus says it is better to be drowned than to cause others to sin.

Drawing on that passage, the Catholic Catechism says scandals include business leaders who encourage fraud, teachers who agitate students and manipulators who turn people away from moral values.

In other words, anyone who leads others to do wrong, directly or indirectly, is responsible for the evil he has encouraged, the church says. So when Francis compares hypocritical Christians to atheists, he’s not being flip; he’s trying to protect his flock.

While many of this Pope’s pronouncements are often assumed to be novel interpretations of Christian doctrines, Francis was also touching on an ancient debate: If you believe but don’t behave, can you get into heaven?

No, the Pope suggested, in characteristically blunt language.

He imagined a wealthy Christian knocking at the gates of heaven and saying, “Here I am, Lord! … I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?”

To which Jesus may reply, according to the Pope:

“Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.”

Thursday’s sermon is far from the first time Francis has targeted Christian hypocrites. In a sermon last February, the outspoken Pope called out the “fakeness” of Christians who talk piously, but do little to help others.

“To be a Christian means to do: to do the will of God — and on the last day — because all of us we will have one — that day what shall the Lord ask us? Will He say: ‘What you have said about me?’ No. He shall ask us about the things we did.”

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First Reading                              Leviticus 19: 1-2, 11-18
You must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice.

The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them: “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

“You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer’s wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man’s way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.

“You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour’s life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.’”

 

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