» 09/02/2012, 00.00
Pope: Christians also likely to relegate religion to "secondary habit "
Benedict XVI warns against "false religiosity": entrusting our joy and security "in material goods, power or other 'gods'." In this way religion "loses its true meaning which is found in listening to God, in doing His will" and external practices which "instead satisfy the human need to feel right before God." Greetings to the Lebanese "joy of upcoming visit to their beautiful country."
Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - The
risk of reducing religion to "practices of a secondary custom"
pervades every religion, even Christianity: this is the warning that Benedict
XVI launched today before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in the
the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. After
the Marian prayer, during his greetings, he remarked on the Lebanese pilgrims present,
confirming his visit in Lebanon, scheduled for September 14 to 16.
Taking a cue from today's Gospel
(XXII Sunday year B, Mk 7 1-8.14-15.21-23), in which Jesus criticizes the
Scribes and Pharisees in their formalism in following the law, the pope said:
"The words of
Jesus in today's Gospel against the Scribes and Pharisees should make us stop
and think too. Jesus makes the words of the prophet Isaiah his own: "This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they
worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts"(Mk 7.6 to 7, cf. Is 29:13). He then
disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition "(Mk 7.8). Even the Apostle
James, in his letter, warns against the danger of a false religion. He writes
to the Christians: "Be
doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves" (James 1:22). "
pope stated that the "law of God", the "commandment" are
"an essential element of the Jewish religion and even Christianity, where
it finds its fulfillment in love (cf. Rom
God's Law therefore is a positive
thing because "it is his Word that guides man on the path of life, it frees
him from the condition of his slavery of selfishness and introduces him to
the" land "of true freedom and life. This is why in the
Bible the Law is not seen as a burden, an overwhelming limitation, but as the
most precious gift of the Lord, the testimony of His fatherly love, His desire
to be close to His people, to be their Ally and write a love
story together with them. Thus prays the pious Israelite, " In your statutes I take delight; I will never
forget your word (...)Lead me in the path of your
commandments, for that is my delight" (Ps 119,16.35.)
In the Old Testament, he who in the name of God transmits God's Law to the
people is Moses. He, after the long journey through the desert, on the threshold
of the Promised Land, proclaims: " Now, Israel,
hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may
live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God
of your fathers, is giving you"(Deut. 4:1)."
"Here - he continued - is the
problem: when the people settle in the land, and are the depositaries of the
Law, they are tempted to entrust their safety and joy to something that is no
longer the Word of the Lord: to material goods, power,
other 'gods' that are actually empty, that are idols. Certainly, the Law of God
remains, but it is no longer the most important thing, the rule of life, it
becomes a facade, a cover, and life takes another direction, other roads, other
rules, often the selfish interests of the individual and groups. So religion
loses its true meaning, which is to live in listening to God, to do his will,
and is reduced to secondary habit, to satisfy the rather human need to feel we
have done right before God. This is a serious risk in every religion, which
Jesus encountered in his time, but that may occur, unfortunately, even in
"May the Virgin Mary -
concluded the pope - to whom we now turn in prayer, help us to listen with an
open and sincere heart to the word of God, so it may guide our thoughts, our
choices and our actions, every day."
the Angelus prayer, greeting the French-speaking pilgrims, he had a particular welcome
for "the Lebanese present this morning, I assure you of my prayers and my
joy to visit your beautiful country soon. I cordially bless you all". Thus
confirming this visit, which some analysts have described as
"difficult" and "unlikely" given the tensions in the Middle
the Lebanese Church has always confirmed the trip of Pope Benedict XVI where he
is expected to deliver the Apostolic Exhortation following the Synod of the
Churches of the Middle East, held in October 2010.
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