During his Sunday Angelus address on Nov. 5, Pope Francis warned against living a double life, highlighting the dangers it presents for authentic Christian witnesses and its potential to create a crisis of credibility for the Church.
The warning stemmed from the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus warns against following the examples of the scribes and the Pharisees.
Quoting Matthew’s Gospel, the pope told the crowd: “Jesus uses very severe words, ‘For they preach, but do not practice … they do all their deeds to be seen by others.’”
Like the scribes and the Pharisees, “the religious leaders of the people,” the pope warned that this incoherence presents a problem not only for those who serve the Church but anyone who is called to “a role of responsibility.”
“This rule is always valid for a priest, a pastoral worker, a politician, a teacher, or a parent: What you say, what you preach to others, be committed to living it first yourself,” the pope said.
Using these words as a point of departure, the pope focused on this double aspect of “the distance between saying and doing and the primacy of the exterior over the interior.”
The pope warned that in the chasm between words and external actions, there is the “duplicity of heart that puts at risk the authenticity of our witness and our credibility as persons and as Christians.”
While acknowledging that because of the inherent fragility of the human condition we “experience a certain distance between what we say and what we do,” the pope warned that “having a duplicitous heart is something else instead.”
The pope said this presents a grave risk both for internal spiritual life and as an outward expression of living as a Christian, jeopardizing the life of Christians and the Church’s credibility.
Expounding the second component of the Gospel’s message, the pope explained: “The scribes and Pharisees were concerned about having to hide their inconsistency to save their outward reputation.”
“This trick is very common — to manifest a beautiful exterior to hide the filth inside,” Francis continued. “But this is an awful sickness, especially for us Christians — when the exterior prevails over the interior. At times, even in the Church, we are tempted to save face, when we should be concerned about the interior so as to be consistent and credible Christians.”
The pope closed the Gospel reflection asking the nearly 23,000 faithful gathered below in St. Peter’s Square to reflect on this inconsistency.
“Do we try to practice what we preach, or do we live duplicitously? Are we concerned only about showing how impeccable we are on the outside, or do we also cultivate our interior life in sincerity of heart?”
Following the Angelus, the Holy Father renewed his appeal for peace in the Israel-Hamas war, which broke out in early October after the terrorist group invaded Israel.
“I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and Israel, where so many people have lost their lives,” the pope said. “Please stop, in the name of God: cease-fire.”
The pope asked that all efforts for a cease-fire be exhausted, especially in light of the untenable humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
“I hope that all avenues will be followed so that the conflict can absolutely be avoided, the wounded can be helped, and aid can reach the population of Gaza, where the humanitarian situation is very serious. Release the hostages immediately. Among them there are also many children; may they return to their families!” the pope said.
The pope also asked for a special prayer intention for the people of Nepal, where a massive 5.7 earthquake hit the western province of Karnali. Rescue efforts are underway and officials fear that the death toll, which is currently at 157, could rise, the BBC reported.
He also made an appeal for “the Afghan refugees who have found refuge in Pakistan, but now no longer know where to go.”
The pope concluded his appeal by asking the faithful to pray for those in Italy affected by the flooding. On Nov. 2, a torrent hit the region of Tuscany, including the provinces of Prato, Florence, and Pistoia. Currently, seven people are dead and one is missing, while thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes.