Pope preaches against ‘spiritual sloth,’ shutting out God’s grace – CWN April 01, 2014
Pope Francis spoke about spiritual sloth and “anesthetized” Christians in his homily at Mass on April 1.
Commenting on the day’s Gospel, which described the Pharisees’ angry reaction when Jesus cured a blind man on the Sabbath, the Pope said that the story reminded him of Catholics who are “without enthusiasm, even embittered,” and do not want to be challenged by the faith.
“This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians,” the Pope said. Christians who lack any apostolic zeal cannot serve the Church well, he said. The Pope went on to urge the faithful to guard against “formalism,” which does not leave room for God’s actions. The Pharisees, who opposed healing on the Sabbath, were formalists, he said, and there are others in the Catholic Church. “They close the door to the grace of God,” he said.
In contrast, the Holy Father observed, Jesus asks the blind man if he wants to be healed, and, receiving an affirmative answer, He heals him. Later, meeting the man again, Jesus cautions him to “Sin no more.” This is the model for Christians, the Pope said: to help first, and then to warn against sin.
“The two Christian words: do you want to be healed? Sin no more. First He heals [the paralytic], then [He says], ‘sin no more.’ – words spoken with tenderness, with love – and this is the Christian way, the way of apostolic zeal: to get close to many people who are injured and in this field hospital, often people whose wounds were inflicted by men and women of the Church. It is a word of a brother and of a sister: do you want to be healed? Then, when He goes on, ‘Ah, do not sin any more, it is not good for you.’ Much better: Jesus’ two words are more beautiful than the attitude of sloth or the attitude of hypocrisy.”