10/14/2013, 00.00
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Pope: "works" are necessary, but only God’s mercy saves

Many Christians think that will be saved only for what they do . It 's the "Jonah syndrome": the search for a "dry-clean sanctity, where everything is beautiful and perfect, but without that zeal to go out and preach the Lord."

Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - "How many Christians there are"  who suffer the "Jonah syndrome", who believe that " will be saved by what they do, for their works ", that are needed but are " a consequence , a response to the merciful love that saves us."

This was underlined by Pope Francis, commenting during mass celebrated at Casa Santa Marta , on the Gospel passage in which Jesus calls the " lawyers " who " tried to test him and trap him" an  "evil generation".

As reported by Vatican Radio , the Pope recalled that when the doctors asked for "a sign" Jesus answers that only they will be given " the sign of Jonah ."

But there is also, warned the Pope , the " syndrome of Jonah ." The Lord asked him to go to Nineveh , and he flees to Spain . Jonah " had things clear ": " doctrine is this ", " you must do this " and sinners " take care of themselves , I'm leaving ." Those who " live according to this syndrome of Jonah " Jesus " calls hypocrites, because they do not want salvation " for the " poor " , the "ignorant" and "sinners" :

"Those who have the ' Jonah Syndrome ' have no zeal for the conversion of people , seeking holiness - allow mw to use this word - a 'dry-clean' holiness, all beautiful and perfectly made, but without that zeal to preach the Lord . Faced with this generation that is suffering from 'Jonah syndrome ' the Lord promises the sign of Jonah . The other version , that of Matthew , says Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights, a reference to Jesus in the tomb - his death and his resurrection - and that is the sign that Jesus promises, against hypocrisy, against this attitude of perfect piety, against this attitude of a group of Pharisees . "

There is a parable in the Gospel, he added Francis, that depicts this aspect very well: that of the Pharisee and publican praying in the temple. The Pharisee, " so sure of himself ," before the altar thanks God for not being like the publican who instead only asks for the mercy of the Lord , recognizing himself as a sinner . Here then is that "sign that Jesus promises for His forgiveness through his death and his resurrection ," said the Pope, "it is his mercy ": " I ​​desire mercy and not sacrifice " :

" The sign of Jonah , the truth, is what gives us the confidence to be saved by the blood of Christ. Many Christians, how many there are, think they will be saved only for what they do, for their works. The works are necessary, but the are a consequence, a response to the merciful love that saves us. These works themselves, without this merciful love are useless. Instead, those who suffer the ' Jonah syndrome ' have confidence only in their personal justice, in their works".

"So it is that the ' Jonah Syndrome ' leads us to hypocrisy, to that self sufficiency, to be clean, perfect Christians, ' because we do these works : we obey the commandments , everything.' It's a great illness. And the sign of Jonah, is that of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, for our salvation . " " Paul says of himself that he is not an apostle because he has studied this , no: he is an Apostle by vocations. And to Christians he says: ' Are you called by Jesus Christ.' The Sign of Jonah calls us : to follow the Lord , as sinners all of us, with humility, meekness . There is a call, even a choice. "

"Let us take advantage of this liturgy today and ask to make a choice: Which do I prefer? the Jonah syndrome or the sign of Jonah ? " .


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