By Adriana Masotti
In his homily during the Mass on Monday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis pointed out that the Apostle was very angry with those who boasted of being “open Christians,” but in whom “the confession of Jesus Christ went hand in hand with a tolerated immorality”: “Brothers and sisters, it is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans.” Those were the harsh words of rebuke, taken from the First Letter to the Corinthians, that St Paul addressed to the Christians there, noting that many of them were leading a double life. Paul recalled that “the yeast leavens all the dough,” and that it takes new leaven for new dough.
The Gospel completely transforms us
Jesus had recommended to His disciples “new wine, new wineskins.” Pope Francis said:
The newness of the Gospel, the newness of Christ is not only transforming our soul; it is transforming our whole being: soul, spirit and body, all of it, everything: that is, transforming the vine – the leaven – into new wineskins, also everything. The newness of the Gospel is absolute, is total; it takes all of us, because it transforms from the inside out: the spirit, the body, and everyday life.
The newness of the Gospel and the novelties of the world
Pope Francis noted that the Christians of Corinth had not understood the all-encompassing newness of the Gospel, which is not an ideology or a means of social living that coexists with the pagan inhabitants. The newness of the Gospel is the Resurrection of Christ, and the Spirit that He has sent “so that He might accompany us in life.” We Christians are men and women of newness, the Pope affirmed, not of novelties:
And so many people seek to live their Christianity “on novelties”: [They say,] “But today, it can be done this way; no today we can live like this.” And these people who live out the novelties that are proposed by the world are worldly; they don’t accept all the newness [of the Gospel]. There is a distinction between the “newness” of Jesus Christ, and the “novelties” that the world proposes to us as a way of living.
Weakness, not hypocrisy
The people that Paul condemns, the Pope said, “are lukewarm people, immoral people… people who dissemble, formal people, hypocritical people.” And he repeated, “The call of Jesus is a call to newness”:
Someone could say, “But Father, we are weak, we are sinners…” “Ah, this is another thing.” If you accept that you are a sinner and weak, He forgives you, because part of the newness of the Gospel is confessing that Jesus Christ has come for the forgiveness of sins. But if you who say that you are a Christian live with these worldly novelties – no, this is hypocrisy. That is the difference. And Jesus has told us in the Gospel: “Be careful when they tell you: ‘Christ is here, He’s there, He’s there… The novelties are these: “No, salvation is with this, with this…” Christ is the only one. And Christ is clear in His message.
The path of Christ is the path of martyrdom
But Jesus does not deceive those who want to follow him. Pope Francis asks the question, “But what is the path of those who live out ‘the newness,’ and do not want to live out ‘novelties’?” He recalls how the day’s Gospel ends, that is, with the decision of the scribes and the doctors of the law to kill Jesus, “to do away with Him.”
“The path of those who take up the newness of Jesus Christ is the same as that of Jesus: the path towards martyrdom,” the Pope warned. Martyrdom is not always bloody, but a daily martyrdom. “We are on a path, and we are watched by the great accuser who raises up the accusers of today to catch us in contradiction.” But, he concludes, there is no need to negotiate with “novelties”; there is no need to “water down the proclamation of the Gospel.”