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Pope says being Christian demands concrete actions

Pope Francis

Wise words: Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 4.
Photo: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

BEING a good Christian demands concrete action and deeds, Pope Francis said.

And, he said, the “how-to” manual was found in the beatitudes and the Last Judgment, which spelt out the consequences awaiting those who failed to help others in need.

Jesus offered a guide to life that was “so simple, but very difficult”, the Pope said on June 9 during his early-morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

It was difficult because Christianity was “a hands-on religion; it isn’t for thinking about, it’s for putting into practice, to do it”, he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

The Pope focused his homily on the day’s Gospel reading from St Matthew in which Jesus teaches the beatitudes, which begin, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.

The beatitudes were the “program” and “the identity card” for every Christian, outlining a step-by-step guide to being “a good Christian”, he said.

Jesus’ teaching went “very much against the tide” of a worldly culture, he said, in which monetary wealth, superficial joy and personal satisfaction were the measures of happiness and success.

But “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, he said, and “blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted”.

People who faced reality and life’s big and small difficulties would mourn in their hearts, but they would also find consolation in Jesus, the Pope said.

Most of the world, on the other hand, “doesn’t want to cry, it prefers to ignore painful situations and cover them up” or just turn the other way and pretend they were not there, he said.

Jesus also says, “Blessed are the meek in this world that, from the beginning, is a world of war, a world where people everywhere fight, where there is hatred everywhere”, the Pope said.

Jesus, however, wants people to be meek, even if everyone “will think that I’m a dolt”.

The world has become all about “business” and deal-making while “so many people suffer” from so many injustices.

Even though “it’s very easy to slip into corrupt cabals” and fall into the “daily politics of ‘do ut des’,” the give-and-take of exchanging favours, blessed were those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, who fought for justice, the Pope said.

Jesus never said, “Blessed are those who wreak revenge”, but rather, blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Those who forgave, understood the mistakes others had made, the Pope said, underlining how “we are all part of an army of people who have been forgiven. We have all been forgiven.”

He said blessed were the clean of heart, those who had “a simple heart” and a heart that “knows to love with purity”, for they would see God.

Today, it was all too common to be “makers of war or at least makers of misunderstanding”, the Pope said. Instead, blessed were the peacemakers.

Gossip and backstabbing were another form of warmongering, he said.

“These people who gossip do not make peace, they are enemies of peace. They are not blessed,” he said.

Blessed were they who were persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he said, as theirs was the kingdom of heaven.

Pope Francis said the beatitudes were “the program of life that Jesus offers us”.

He said, “If we want something more, Jesus also gives us other instructions” in the “Judgment of the Nations” in later chapters of St Matthew’s Gospel.

People should remember the “protocol by which we will be judged” – by what everyone had done or did not do for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned, he said.

He asked that people find the time to read the beatitudes and the final judgment “once, twice, three times”.

By following these two teachings, “you can live a holy Christian life”, the Pope said.

CNS

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