The Pope was speaking at the Mass this morning in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta guesthouse. After the day’s readings he described the need for Christians to be truly committed to discipleship and prepared to take risks for the cause of the Gospel, according to Vatican Radio.
“I think of many Christians, of many Catholics: yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm, even embittered,” he said.
“‘Yes, life is what it is, but the Church – I go to Mass every Sunday, but better not get mixed up in things – I have faith for my health, I do not feel the need to give it to another…’. Each in his own house, the quiet life: but, you do something and then they criticise you: ‘No, leave it alone, don’t chance it.’ This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians. This attitude that is crippling the apostolic zeal, which makes Christian people stand still and at ease, but not in the good sense of the word: they do not bother to go out to proclaim the Gospel! They are anaesthetised.”
These Christians “without apostolic zeal,” he continued, “are not useful, they do not do the Church well. And how many Christians are like this, selfish, out for themselves?” This, he said, is “the sin of sloth, which is a sin against apostolic zeal, against the desire to give the news of Jesus to others, that newness, which was given to me for free.”
Commenting on the the day’s Gospel passage, the Pope went on to say that there is also another sin, the sin of formalism, demonstrated when Jesus is criticised for healing the sick on the Sabbath. “Christians,” he said, “who do not leave space for the grace of God – and the Christian life, the life of these people, consists in having all the paperwork, all the certificates, in order.”
He added: “Christian hypocrites, like these, only interested in their formalities. It was a Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God cannot work on Sabbath days. They close the door to the grace of God. We have so many in the Church, we have many! It is another sin. The first, those who have the sin of sloth, are not able to go forward with their apostolic zeal, because they have decided to stand firm in themselves, in their sorrows, their resentments, in all of that. Such as these are not capable of bringing salvation because they close the door to salvation.”