Pope warns against ‘Jonah syndrome’ of the pharisees

Rome, Italy, Oct 14, 2013 / 09:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his daily homily Pope Francis examined Christ's interaction with the pharisees in the day's Gospel reading, stressing that pious works without love are empty.

During the Oct. 10 liturgy at St. Martha's residence, the Pope centered his reflections on the “Sign of Jonah,” which Jesus refers to in Luke's Gospel narrative.

He noted that when Jesus speaks of the “wicked generation,” he is not referring to those who have followed him out of love, but rather pointing to the religious officials who are trying to test him and lead him into a trap.

Pope Francis spoke specifically of the pharisees who demanded that Jesus perform signs, which the Lord responded to by stating that he alone would give the “Sign of Jonah,” just as Jonah himself had become a sign to the Ninevites.

Those who make such demands, the Pope said, suffer from the “Jonah syndrome,” which Jesus refers to as hypocritical because they exhibit “an attitude of perfect piety,” that looks to the doctrine of salvation but disregards the “poor people.”

The “Sign of Jonah,” urged the Pope, is the sign of truth which gives one the confidence to receive salvation from the blood of Christ.

Referring to those Christians who believe that they will be saved solely by the works which they perform, the Pope stressed that although necessary, works are a consequence and a response to the merciful love which saves us.

Works without merciful love, he urged, have no meaning, highlighting that the “Jonah Syndrome” is to perform works that are absent of this love.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by exhorting those present to take advantage of the day’s liturgy and make a choice, asking them which attitude they prefer; the “Sign of Jonah,” or the “Syndrome of Jonah?”

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