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 went on to warn 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.”