Christianity is hands-on action, not school of thought, pope says
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Being a good Christian demands concrete action and deeds, Pope Francis said. And, he said, the "how-to" manual is found in the beatitudes and the Last Judgment, which spells out the consequences awaiting those who fail to help others in need.
Jesus offers a guide to life that is "so simple, but very difficult," the pope said June 9 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
It's difficult because Christianity is "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 are the "program" and "the identity card" for every Christian, outlining a step-by-step guide to being "a good Christian," he said.
Jesus' teaching goes "very much against the tide" of a worldly culture, he said, in which monetary wealth, superficial joy and personal satisfaction are 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 face reality and life's big and small difficulties will mourn in their hearts, but they will 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're 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 favors, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who fight 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 forgive, understand the mistakes others have 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 are the clean of heart, those who have "a simple heart" and a heart that "knows to love with purity," for they will see God.
Today, it's all too common to be "makers of war or at least makers of misunderstanding," the pope said. Instead, blessed are the peacemakers. Gossip and backstabbing are another form of warmongering, he said.
"These people who gossip do not make peace, they are enemies of peace. They are not blessed."
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he said, as theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Pope Francis said the beatitudes are "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 has done or didn't 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.