(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis warned that lukewarm Christians who’ve lost the memory and enthusiasm of their first encounter with Christ are in grave danger of letting the devil into their homes. Christians, he explained, must always retain that memory of their first meeting with Christ and their hope in Him to help them go forward with the courage of their faith. The Pope’s words came at his morning Mass on Friday (January 30th) celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.
Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:
Taking the inspiration for his reflections from the Letter to the Hebrews, Pope Francis said somebody who no longer remembers his or her first meeting with Jesus is an empty and spiritually inert person, as only lukewarm people can be. The day of that first encounter with Christ, he stressed, must never be forgotten.
Lukewarm Christians in grave danger
“Our memory is so important for recalling the grace received because if we chase away that enthusiasm which comes from the memory of that first love, this enthusiasm coming from that first love, then a huge danger arrives for Christians: a lukewarm (faith). Lukewarm Christians. They’re there, immobile and yes, they’re Christians, but they’ve lost the memory of that first love. And they’ve also lost their enthusiasm. In addition, they’ve lost their patience, to tolerate life’s problems with the spirit of Jesus’ love, to tolerate, and to bear on their shoulders the difficulties…. Lukewarm Christians, poor things, they’re in grave danger.”
Pope Francis said when he thinks about lukewarm Christians he is struck by two distasteful images, the one described by Peter who talks of the dog that returns to its own vomit and the other described by Jesus of people who chase away the devil and decide to follow the gospel but when the devil later returns with reinforcements they open their doors of their house to him. The Pope said this is like returning to the vomit of that evil that was earlier rejected and vice-versa.
“A Christian has these two parameters, memory and hope. We must evoke our memory so as not to lose the beautiful experience of that first love which feeds our hope. Many times that hope is in darkness but (a Christian) still goes ahead. He or she believes and goes forward because they know that hope never disappoints us, in finding Jesus. These two parameters are the very frames within which we can safeguard the salvation of the good people which comes from the Lord.”
Memory and hope equal faith
The Pope said this salvation must be protected in order that the tiny mustard seed will grow and bear fruit.
“It’s painful and heart-breaking to see so many Christians - so many Christians! – half-way along the road, so many Christians who’ve failed along this road towards a meeting with Jesus, going away from this encounter with Jesus. This road where they’ve lost the memory of that first love and no longer have any hope.”
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