May God grant us the grace of interior truth, rather than living a life of hypocrisy and trickery.
That was Pope Francis’ message on Friday to those gathered for morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta chapel.
Reflecting on the first reading of the day from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, the pope explained that God’s pardon is always freely given and not earned by what we do.
The work we do, he continued, is our response to this gratuitous love and forgiveness of God, who took away original sin and who pardons our sins every time we turn to Him.
Hypocrities try to appear virtuous
In the passage from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis said, we read about another way that people seek justification, by trying to appear righteous and saintly. They are the hypocrites, he said, whose lives are filthy inside, but on the outside they try to appear virtuous and holy by showing how they fast and pray or give to charity.
Jesus asks us to be truthful
In their hearts, the pope said, there is no substance, but they live by deception and theirs is a life of trickery. Jesus always asks us to be truthful in our hearts: that’s why he tells us to pray out of sight, to hide the weakness we feel when we fast, and to conceal our almsgiving, so that the left hand does not know what the right one is doing.
Falsehood is very bad for us
Jesus asks us to live coherently, Pope Francis insisted, because falsehood and hypocrisy are very bad for us. In today’s psalm, he said, we ask the Lord for the grace of truth, saying “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not”. We confess our faults to the Lord and He takes away the our sin and guilt.
Truth is always before God
We must always be truthful with God, the pope concluded, so let us learn not to accuse others, but rather to accuse ourselves, without trying to hide our sins from the Lord.