Hypocrisy is a mask that makes us incapable of truly loving, teaches Pope Francis.
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During the General Audience, held in St. Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father continued his catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, explaining how hypocrisy undermines law.
Pope Francis centered his reflection on an incident in the New Testament when St. Paul corrects St. Peter.
Peter and Paul
Jewish Law forbade sharing meals with non-Jews. Yet, in Caesarea, Peter had entered the house of the centurion, Cornelius, and dined with him. Peter justified his actions to those who reproached him (Acts 11:16-17), for the Holy Spirit had entered Cornelius’ home while they ate.
Later in Antioch, when Peter was again criticized by circumcumcized Christians, illustrates the Holy Father, he ceased to eat with non-Jewish Christians. “In his reproach,” says Pope Francis, “Paul uses a term that allows us to enter into the merit of his reaction: hypocrisy (cf. Gal 2:13).”
What is hypocrisy?
“Hypocrisy,” says the Pope, “can be called the fear of the truth.” It is a kind of pretending, the Holy Father specified. “It is like putting makeup on the soul,” says Pope Francis, “like putting makeup on your behaviour, putting makeup on how to proceed: this is not the truth.”
Pretending, the Pope argued, only produces half truths. “This pretence suffocates the courage to openly say the truth,” says Pope Francis.
Fighting for the truth
The Bible offers examples of those who contest hypocrisy. The Holy Father recalled Eleazar, from the book of Maccabees, who refused to pretend to eat meat offered to idols, not even to save his own life!
In the New Testament, the Holy Father says, there are many examples in the Gospel where Jesus reproaches hypocrites. “If you have some time today,” encourages the Holy Father, “pick up the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew and see how many times Jesus says: ‘hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites.’”
A mask which hinders love
“Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth,” says Pope Francis. Lacking the strength to reveal their hearts, they do not know how to love, says the Pope.
Citing examples of hypocrisy in the workplace and in politics, the Holy Father lastly turned to the Church. “Hypocrisy in the Church is particularly detestable; and unfortunately, hypocrisy exists in the Church and there are many hypocritical Christians and ministers,” says Pope Francis.
“Let us not be afraid to be truthful, to speak the truth, to hear the truth, to conform ourselves to the truth, so we can love,” concludes the Pope.