Scandal wounds hearts and kills hopes: this was the core of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the Gospel at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,” the Pope said, recalling the words of Our Lord in the Gospel reading, “but woe to the one through whom they occur.” Hence the warning to his disciples: “Be on your guard!”
“So, be careful not to scandalize. Scandal is evil, because scandal wounds – it wounds God’s People where they are most vulnerable, and strikes the People of God where they are weakest – and many times, the wounds inflicted by scandal are borne by the faithful throughout their lives. Not only does it do harm: scandal is capable of murder – of killing hopes, killing dreams, killing families, killing so many hearts.”
The Holy Father stressed that Christ’s warning, “Be on your guard!” is a warning for everyone, and especially to people who call themselves Christian, but live as Pagans. This is “the scandal of the people of God.”:
“How many Christians, by their example, with their inconsistency, drive people away from the Faith: the incoherence of Christians is one of the readiest weapons the devil has to weaken the people of God and to divert the people of God from the Lord – to say one thing and do another.”
This is the “incoherence” which gives scandal, which today gives us to ask ourselves, “How coherent is my life? How coherent is it with the Gospel, How coherent is it with the Lord?” The Pope then offered the example of Christian business-owners who do not pay just wages and who exploit people for their own gain, or even the scandal given by pastors in the Church, who, careless of their sheep, see them wander off and away.
“Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters: both God and money – and when the pastor is one who is attached to money, he gives scandalize. People are scandalized: the shepherd, attached to money. Every shepherd must ask: How is my friendship with money? Or the shepherd who seeks to rise: vanity leads him to climb, instead of being gentle, humble, because meekness and humility favor closeness to the people – or the shepherd who feels himself a lord, and lords it over everyone, proud, and not the servant-pastor of God’s people.”
Pope Francis concluded saying, “Let today be the propitious day, on which to make this examination of conscience: Do I give scandal? If so, how? Thus, shall we be able to answer the Lord and approach Him a little more closely.”