Photo: Child waves a flag as Pope Francis arrives at the Caritas residence in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi. The pontiff was making his first pilgrimage as pope to the birthplace of his papal namesake. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)
By Kerri Lenartowick
Assisi, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) – On the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis said that Christians should follow the example of the great saint by stripping themselves of a spirit of worldliness.
“All of us must undress ourselves from this worldliness: the spirit contrary to the spirit of the beatitudes, the spirit contrary to the spirit of Jesus,” he said Oct. 4 to a group of bishops and poor individuals gathered in Assisi.
The Pope’s speech, which diverged from his prepared remarks, was one of several given during his day-long pilgrimage to St. Francis’ hometown.
“When Francis, here, made this gesture of undressing, he was a young man: he didn’t have strength. It was the power of God that drove him to do this,” said the Pope, who spoke from the place where St. Francis is said to have disrobed in an act of solidarity with the poor and total reliance on God.
St. Francis’ gesture was a visible reminder of Jesus own willingness to “undress” himself: “he became a servant, he wanted to be humbled.”
“And if we want to be Christians, there is no other way,” the Pope stated. “We must undress ourselves today from a very serious danger that threatens each person in the Church: the danger of worldliness.”
There are some who want to “make Christianity ‘a little more human,’ without the Cross,” he noted. But that is a kind of “bakery Christianity” in which everything is beautiful and sweet like a cake.
“That is not real Christianity,” he underscored.
True Christianity embraces the cross because it is the way of Christ. “Jesus himself said one can´t serve two masters. Either serve God or serve money.”
“Money,” the Pope said, indicates “the whole spirit of worldliness: money, vanity, pride, that path.” Worldliness “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride,” he continued. “And that is an idol, it’s not God.”
“It is truly ridiculous that a Christian, a true Christian…wants to go along the path of worldliness,” the pontiff insisted. “It is a homicidal attitude. Spiritual worldliness kills. It kills the soul, it kills the person. It kills the Church.”
Christians cannot be unconcerned about those in the world who suffer in situations of poverty or other difficulties, the Pope emphasized.
Earlier that morning he had visited with the disabled and sick children of Assisi, noting that similarly to how Jesus is hidden in the Eucharist, he “is hidden in these young people, in these children.”
“The Christian adores Jesus, the Christian seeks Jesus, the Christian knows to recognize the wounds of Jesus” that are visible in those who suffer with illness and disabilities, Pope Francis went on.
This reality is a “source of hope,” because when Jesus rose from the dead, he kept the scars from his wounds. “We care for the wounds of Jesus here, and from heaven He shows us his scars and says to all of us, every one, ‘I am waiting for you!’”
Pope Francis was accompanied on his pilgrimage to Assisi by the group of eight cardinals chosen to help consider a reformation of the Roman Curia. The Pope’s itinerary includes visits to many of the city’s sacred sights including the tombs of St. Francis and St. Clare.