By editor - 02 July, 2013
We must recognize that we are weak and that, at times, we have to flee from sin without nostalgia, without looking back.
Christians are called to be courageous in their weakness. We must recognize that we are weak and that, at times, we have to flee from sin without nostalgia, without looking back. We must not let temptation or fear keep us from God. Instead we must learn that ‘he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day!’ This was the lesson at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass on Tuesday.
Acting with hesitancy, always looking back, being afraid to turn to the Lord, the grace of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis took his cue from the daily readings to dwell on four “possible attitudes in conflict situations, in difficult situations.” The first attitude is that of the “slowness” of Lot. He decided to leave the city before it was destroyed, but he does so slowly. The angel tells him to run away, but he carries within an ‘”inability to detach himself from evil and sin.” The Pope noted that we want to go out, we are determined, “but there is something that pulls us back,” and so Lot begins to negotiate even with the angel.
“It’s so hard to cut ties with a sinful situation. It is hard! Even in a temptation, it’s hard! But the voice of God tells us this word: ‘Escape! You cannot fight there, because the fire, the sulfur will kill you. Escape!’ St. Therese of the Child Jesus taught us that sometimes, in some temptations, the only solution is to escape and not be ashamed to escape; to recognize that we are weak and we have to escape. And our popular wisdom, in its simplicity, says as much, somewhat ironically: ‘he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.’ Escaping to go forward along the path of Jesus.”
The Pope continued that the angel then says “do not look back,” to escape and keep your eyes faced forward. Here, he said, is some advice on how to overcome our nostalgia of sin. Think of the People of God in the desert, he stressed: “They had everything, promises, everything.” And yet “they were nostalgic for the onions of Egypt” and this “longing made them forget that they ate those onions on the table of slavery.” There was the “longing to go back, to return.” And the advice of the angel, the Pope observed, “is wise: Do not look back! Move ahead!” We must not do as Lot’s wife, we must “leave behind all nostalgia, because there is also the temptation of curiosity.”
“Faced with sin, we must escape without any nostalgia. Curiosity does not help, it hurts! ‘But, in this sinful world, what can we do? What is this sin like? I would like to know . . . ‘ No, do not! This curiosity will hurt you! Run away and do not look back! We are weak, all of us, and we must defend ourselves. The third situation is on the boat: it is fear. When there is great upheaval at sea, the boat was covered with the waves. ‘Save us, Lord, we are lost!’ they say. Fear! Even that is a temptation of the devil: to be afraid to move forward on the path of the Lord.”
There is a temptation that says it is “better to stay here,” where I’m safe. “But this – warned the Pope – is the slavery of Egypt.” “I fear moving forward – the Pope said – I’m afraid of where the Lord will bring me.” Fear, however, “is not a good counselor.” Jesus, he added, “so many times, said: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Fear does not help us.” The fourth attitude “is the grace of the Holy Spirit.” When Jesus calms the agitated sea, the disciples on the boat are filled with awe. “Faced with sin, nostalgia, fear,” he said, we must always turn to the Lord.
“Looking to the Lord, contemplating the Lord. This gifts us the beautiful wonder of a new encounter with the Lord. ‘Lord, I am being tempted: I want to stay in this situation of sin, Lord, I am curious to know about these things, Lord, I’m afraid.’ And they looked to the Lord: ‘Save us, Lord, we are lost!’ And wonder at a new encounter with Jesus followed. We must not be naive nor lukewarm Christians, but brave, courageous. We are weak, but we must be courageous in our weakness. And often our courage must be expressed in escaping without looking back, so as not to fall into the trap of wicked nostalgia. Do not be afraid and always look to the Lord! “.
Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and was attended by a group of priests and employees of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and a group from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.
2013-07-02 Vatican Radio