“Rigidity is a sign of a weak heart,” the headline at Vatican Radio reads.
He’s at it again. Pope Francis is going after the Pharisaical legalists in his daily Mass homily. Nothing new about that, except that maybe this round packs an even bigger punch than usual.
It will interest Pray Tell readers that the pope tied all this to the Eucharistic fast:
Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast”:
But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart.”
Francis sure has a way with words and images. Here he is wishing that rigid Christians would slip on a banana peel:
And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter you, [and realize] that you are the Savior. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”
I trust the pope means taking a spill in the spiritual and moral sense – not hoping that fellow Christians would actually take a tumble and hurt themselves physically.
In that sense, may all of us on all sides be given the banana peels we need to slip on.