Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Christians should not conform "to this world, but to Christ, and follow Him on His path", said Pope Francis Sunday ahead of reciting the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. He recalled that "we Christians live in the world," but "we risk becoming 'worldly', like 'tasteless salt, as Jesus would say (cf. Mt 5:13), in other words we risk becoming watered down Christians and losing the charge of newness that comes from the Lord and the Holy Spirit".
"It 's sad - he continued moving from his scripted speech- to find watered down Christians, who are just like watered down wine and you can't tell if they are Christians or watered down. Like watered down wine you can't tell if its wine or water". "If the salt has become tasteless - he added - it is useless .... Their salt has lost its flavor and they have become worldly ...".
The inspiration came from today's Gospel (Matthew 16.21-27) in which Jesus announces that He will suffer greatly, be killed, and rise again the third day. "It is a critical moment - said the Pope - in which the contrast between Jesus' way of thinking and that of the disciples emerges. Even Peter feels compelled to rebuke the Master, because he cannot reconcile himself to the idea that the Messiah would come to such an ignoble end. Then Jesus, in turn, severely rebukes Peter, puts him back "in line" because he does not think "according to God, but according to men" (verse. 23) and without realizing it is part of Satan, the tempter".
"The Apostle Paul insists on this point - he added - in this Sunday's liturgy, writing to the Christians in Rome, he tells them:" Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God"(Rom 12,2)".
The opposite of being watered down is
"when through the power of the Gospel,
mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines
of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life" (Paul VI, ibid., n. Evangelii nuntiandi,
"So - he continued - you must be continually renewed by drawing from the life source of the Gospel. And how can you do this in practice? First of all, just by reading and meditating on the Gospel every day, so that the word of Jesus is always present in our lives".
And here Francis recalled some
advice which he has already given several times: "Remember to always carry with you a little Gospel and
read a page every
day ... Let us carry
the Word of God."
In order to be constantly renewed, in addition to meditating on the word of God, it is important to participate "in the Sunday Mass, where we meet the Lord in the community, listen to His Word and receive the Eucharist unites us to Him and each other. Then another very important thing for the spiritual renewal are days of recollection and retreats. Gospel, the Eucharist, prayer, thanks to these gifts of the Lord we can conform ourselves not to the world, but to Christ, and follow Him on His path, the path of "losing our life "to find it (v 25).." Losing it "in the sense of giving it, offering it for love, and in love - and this involves the sacrifice of the Cross - to receive it again, purified, freed from selfishness and from the mortgage of death, full of eternity. "
"May the Virgin Mary - he concluded - always precede us in this journey, let us be guided and accompanied by her."
After the Angelus, Francis recalled that tomorrow is the Day for the Safeguarding of Creation, promoted by the Italian Bishops' Conference. "The theme this year - said the pope - is very important, "Educating to care for creation, for the health of our country and our cities". I hope that it will strengthen the commitment of all institutions, associations and citizens to safeguard the life and health of people by respecting the environment and nature. "