Pope Francis warns of the danger of “appearance religiosity”

Vatican, 29 Aug. 21 / 12:48 pm (ACI).- Pope Francis has warned Christians of the danger of a “religious appearance” by commenting on the gospel at the Angelus prayer this Sunday, 29, in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. The pontiff explained that this form of religiosity consists in “appearing well from the outside, forgetting the purification of the heart”.

“There is always the temptation to systematize God with some outward devotion, but Jesus is not content with this worship. Jesus doesn’t want externality. He wants a faith that reaches the heart,” the Pope said. “We too often disguise the heart,” he lamented.

In his catechesis, Francis alerted the faithful to the fact that “often we think that evil comes above all from the outside, from the behavior of others, from those who think badly of us, of society. How often do we blame others, society, the world, for everything that happens to us!”.

“It’s always the fault of others: the people, the rulers, the bad luck, and so on. It seems that problems always come from outside. And we spend time distributing the blame, but spending time blaming others is wasting time. We get nervous, acidic, and we keep God away from our hearts,” he said.

In that sense, he said, “You can’t be truly religious in the complaint. Complaints poison, lead to anger, resentment and sadness in the heart that closes the doors to God”.

Francisco addressed the topic by commenting on this Sunday’s Gospel passage, taken from the Gospel of St. Mark. He explained that Jesus’ disciples “took food before the traditional ritual ablutions” and that “some scribes and Pharisees were scandalized by thinking among themselves: ‘this way of proceeding is contrary to religious practice’.”

Francis invited us to ask why Jesus and his disciples ignored these religious traditions. “Because for Him it is important to restore faith to its center. And to avoid a risk, which applies to those scribes as well as to us: observing external formalities, putting the heart of faith in second place”, he affirmed.

In fact, “soon afterward, Jesus calls the crowd to tell a great truth: there is nothing that comes from without that makes man impure, but it is from within the human heart that all evil intentions are born.”

The pope stated that “these words are revolutionary, because in the mentality of the time it was thought that some food or external contacts made it impure. Jesus inverts the perspective: what comes from outside is not bad, but what is born from within”.

Francis ended the comment before the Angelus prayer by encouraging the faithful to ask “today that the Lord frees us from blaming others, like children, who always say: ‘it wasn’t me, it was the other’. Let us pray in prayer for the grace not to waste our time polluting the world with complaints, because that is not Christian. Jesus invites us to look at life and the world from our heart”.

“If we look inside ourselves, we will find almost everything that we hate outside. And if we sincerely ask God to purify our hearts, then yes, we will begin to make the world cleaner. Because there is a surefire way to overcome evil: to start defeating it within us”, said the pope.

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