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Pope warns against the veil of hypocrisy in the Church

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Pope Francis warned the congregation assembled for daily Mass in the chapel of the St. Martha Residence in the Vatican to beware of what he called the "disguise of hypocrisy" in faith in his daily homily yesterday. “The sign that we are far from the Lord is hypocrisy. The hypocrite does not need the Lord, he is saved by himself – so he thinks – and he disguises himself as a saint,” the Pontiff said, explaining that the season of Lent allows for people to shed that disguise and grow closer to God. God always stands "waiting for us in order to forgive us," observed the Pope.

“What makes people hypocrites? they disguise themselves, they disguise themselves as good people: they make themselves up like little holy cards, looking up at heaven as they pray, making sure they are seen – they believe they are more righteous than others, but they despise others," Francis explained, quoting the teachings of Jesus himself. The Holy Father emphasized that those who have the appearance of being "good Catholics" might not always be so. “‘Mah,’ they say, ‘I’m very Catholic, because my uncle was a great benefactor, my family is this, I’m that…I’ve learned...I know this bishop, this cardinal, this priest...I am this or that...’ They think they are better than others, this is hypocrisy,” Francis preached.

The Lord Jesus gives us a very different formula about what makes someone good in the eyes of God, the Pope reminded the congregation Tuesday. "No one is justified by himself. We all need to be justified. And the only one who justifies us is Jesus Christ,” preached the Pope, reminding that it is essential for people to "go to the Lord" in order that they may not become what he called "Christians in disguise" because “when the appearance passes, one can see the reality.”

The Holy Father said that the measurement of what God expects from us might very aptly be found in the words of the Prophet Isaiah in a Scripture that is often found in the Liturgy of the Hours during the Lenten Season. “Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good,” paraphrased the Pope. “Take care of the neighbor: the sick, the poor, the needy, the ignorant. the hypocrites do not know how to do this, they can’t, because they are so full of themselves that they are blind on account of watching others. When one walks a little bit and comes closer to the Lord, the light of the Lord makes him see these things and he goes to help the brothers,” Francis taught, saying further that “this is the sign, this is the sign of conversion.”

Even "the sign of conversion" is not quite enough, as the Pope further observed that a person must have "an encounter with Jesus Christ," something that he said we can know we are near to doing when we want to care for the poor, the sick, and the aged, in whom Christ can be seen and found. Lent is a time for us “to adjust life, to fix life, to change life, to draw closer to the Lord. the sign that we are drawing closer to the Lord with repentance, asking for forgiveness, is that we care for the needy brethren,” the Pontiff said with conviction.

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