Photo: Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 3. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 


By Elise Harris

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) – In his daily homily on Thursday, September 4,  Pope Francis spoke on the importance of having an encounter with Christ, saying without it one becomes lukewarm and unable to evangelize.

“If a Christian is not able to feel themselves a sinner and saved by the blood of Christ, this crucified one, they are a half-way Christian, a tepid Christian,” Pope Francis told mass attendees Sept. 4.

“When we find decadent churches, when we find decadent parishes, decadent institutions, surely the Christians who are there have never encountered Jesus Christ or have forgotten about this encounter with Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis took his cue from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians in the first reading when he says that “If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.”

Speaking to those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff referred to how the apostle tells us that “the power of the Word of God, which changes the heart, which changes the world, which gives us hope, which gives us life,” is not found “in human wisdom.”

“It’s not a nice talk or to say nice things with human intelligence. No. This is foolishness,” he said. “The strength of the Word of God comes from another part.”

Drawing attention to how St. Paul himself states that “I can only boast of my sins” and “I can only boast in Christ and this crucifix,” the Bishop of Rome explained that to say this “is scandalous.”

“The strength of the Word of God is in that encounter between my sins and the blood of Christ, which saves me,” he said, “and when there is no encounter, there is no strength in the heart.”

“When we forget that encounter that we had in life, we become worldly, we want to speak about the things of God with human language, and this is not good: it doesn’t give life.”

Pope Francis then turned his attention to the day’s Gospel reading, taken from Luke, in which Peter tells Jesus “Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man” following the miraculous catch of fish. It is precisely in this moment, the Pope explained, when Peter finds salvation.

“The privileged place for an encounter with Jesus Christ are precisely our sins,” he observed, stating that “If a Christian is not able to feel themselves a sinner and saved by the blood of Christ, this crucified one, they are a half-way Christian, a tepid Christian.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflections saying: “The strength of the Christian life and the strength of the Word of God are precisely in that moment where I, a sinner, encounter Jesus Christ.”

“And that encounter renews my life, changes my life…and gives me the strength to announce salvation to others.”