Pope Francis: live without fear of being true. the hypocrite does not know how to love

In catechesis, the Pontiff invited Christians to be inspired by Paul, a upright man who is not afraid of the truth. Hypocrisy, he asserted, can endanger unity in the Church.

Bianca Fraccalvieri – Vatican News

Hypocrisy was the theme of the General Audience this Wednesday (25/08). Continuing the cycle of catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Pope Francis quoted an episode narrated by the Apostle that took place in Antioch.

The protagonist is Pedro and what is at stake is the relationship between the Law and freedom. The object of criticism was Pedro’s behavior at the table, which changed according to the company. The Law prohibited a Jew from sharing meals with non-Jews. Peter was at the table without any difficulty with the Christians who had come from paganism, but when some circumcised Christians from Jerusalem arrived in the city, he no longer did, so as not to incur their criticism. This is serious in Paul’s eyes, not least because Peter was being imitated by other disciples and his behavior created an unfair division in the community.

Paul reminds Christians that they must absolutely not listen to those who preach the need to be circumcised and thus stay “under the Law” with all its prescriptions. In his rebuke, Paul uses a term that allows us to enter into the merits of his reaction: hypocrisy (cf. Gl 2, 13).

The observance of the Law by Christians has led to this hypocritical behavior, which the Apostle intends to combat with force and conviction.

Pope greets faithful in Paul VI Room

Pope greets faithful in Paul VI Room

Pretending is making up the soul

For Francisco, hypocrisy is the fear of the truth. People would rather pretend than be themselves. “It’s like making up the soul, making up attitudes, the way of proceeding: it’s not the truth.” Pretending prevents the courage to tell the truth openly, and so easily avoids the obligation to tell it always, everywhere and in spite of everything.

“Pretending leads to this: half-truths,” the Pope said. And half-truths are a pretense, they are a way of acting that is untrue and that prevents courage, from telling the truth openly. In an environment where interpersonal relationships are lived under the banner of formalism, the hypocrisy virus easily spreads.

The Pope recalls that there are several examples in the Bible where hypocrisy is fought, such as old Eleazar, and situations in which Jesus strongly rebukes those who appear righteous on the outside, but on the inside are full of falsehood and iniquity.

“A hypocrite is a person who pretends, flatters and deceives because he lives with a mask on his face, and does not have the courage to face the truth. Therefore, he is not able to truly love: he is limited to living by selfishness and does not have the strength to show his heart with transparency.”

the hypocrite does not know how to love

There are many situations in which hypocrisy can occur, Francis warns: at work, in politics and even in the Church, where “it is particularly detestable.” “Unfortunately, there is hypocrisy in the Church. There are many hypocritical Christians and ministers.”

Francis ends his catechesis by quoting the words of Jesus: “Let this be your way of speaking: yes, yes, no, no; everything that goes beyond this proceeds from the spirit of evil” (Mt 5, 37).

“Brothers and sisters, let us think about what Paul condemns: hypocrisy; and that Jesus condemns: hypocrisy. And let’s not be afraid to be truthful, to tell the truth, to feel the truth, to conform to the truth. So we can love. The hypocrite does not know how to love. To act otherwise is to endanger the unity in the Church, the one for which the Lord Himself prayed.”