VATICAN CITY, February 21 (CNA) .- Pope Francis centered his daily homily today around the importance of Christians having a living, rather than merely theoretical, faith.
“Even we make this mistake many times: ‘But I have a lot of faith,’ we
hear it said. ‘I believe everything, everything...’ And maybe the person
who says this has a tepid, weak life. His faith is like a theory, but
it is not alive in his life,” said Pope Francis on Feb. 21 in the chapel
of the Santa Marta residence.
“The Apostle James, when he speaks of faith, speaks properly of
doctrine, of that which is the content of faith. But you can know all
the commandments, all the prophecies, all the truths of the faith, but
if this doesn’t become practice, does not end up in works, it’s no
help,” he explained.
The Pontiff went on to point out that theoretical knowledge is no guarantee of true Christianity.
“We can recite the Creed theoretically, even without faith, and there
are many people who do it like that. Even the demons! The demons know
well what is said in the Creed and they know that it is the truth.”
Pope Francis pointed out that there are many gospel stories which
illustrate that people may “know what they must believe, but they don’t
have faith,” such as when the pharisees try to trick Jesus by asking
about a woman who had married 7 brothers successively, after each of
their deaths. “Whose wife will she be in heaven?” they demand.
Such instances reveal a vision of “faith merely as a system of ideas, an ideology.”
Those who hold to such a view, those who “fall into ideologies” and
“know the doctrine, “ but are without faith, ”like the demons,” are not
living truly Christian lives, noted the Pope.
On the other hand, the gospels also contain stories of “people who
don’t know doctrine but have a lot of faith,” such as the Samaritan
woman at the well who opened her heart to the Lord because she “met not
abstract truth,” but the person of Jesus Christ.
This encounter in faith, explained Pope Francis, always leads a Christian to move outward toward others.
“Faith always leads to witness. Faith is a meeting with Jesus Christ,
with God, and it is born from that and leads you to witness.”
Without such fruit, faith is lifeless. “A faith without works, a faith
that doesn’t engage you, that doesn’t lead you to witness, isn’t faith.
It is words, and nothing more than words,” concluded the Pope.