Pope warns against the wandering of an 'existential tourist'

Pope Francis greets the faithful from the loggia of St. John Lateran, April 7, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

In his homily Monday, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of having direction in our lives rather than turning in circles and never advancing, emphasizing that we move forward only through faith in God.

“They are wandering Christians: turning around and around, as if life was an existential tourism, without destination, without taking promises very seriously,” the Pope reflected in his March 31 Mass.

Addressing those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse chapel, the Roman Pontiff began his homily by returning to the day’s first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, and the day’s Gospel, taken from John, in which the son of an official is healed because the man believed Jesus’ assurance that it would happen.

The Pope distinguished between different types of Christians and how they live their lives, explaining that before asking us anything, God promises us a life of joy; this allows us to journey in hope and trust the promises he had made.

However, “so many Christians are immobile” he lamented, adding that “we have so many behind us that have a weak hope.”

“Yes, they believe that there will be heaven and everything will go well,” the Pope continued, stating that “It's OK that they believe it, but they do not seek it! They fulfill the commandments, the precepts: everything, everything … but they are immobile.”

“The Lord cannot make leaven of them among his people, because they do not walk,” the Bishop of Rome emphasized, highlighting that “those who are stationary” are problematic.

Another type of Christian we encounter are those “who take the wrong path,” he said, clarifying that “all of us have sometimes mistaken the way, this we know.”

However, “the problem is not mistaking the way: the problem is not coming back when one realizes they have made a mistake.”

Pope Francis went on to say that the true model of a believer is the official in the Gospel reading who does not doubt that Christ will heal his son when he asks. But the Pope noted there are many who, unlike the official, deceive themselves and wander aimlessly -- without moving forward.

“They are wandering Christians: turning around and around…without destination.”

Although these people might say “’I walk,’” his response would be “No, you don't walk: you turn in circles. The wandering...”

“Instead, the Lord asks us not to stop, not to mistake the way, and not to go around in circles in life … he asks us to look at the promises, going forward with promises like this man, as this man.”

“This man believed in the word of God” he exclaimed, adding that “faith puts us on the road toward the promises. Faith in the promises of God.”

Despite our tendency as sinners to take the wrong path and to sometimes wander, the Pope emphasized that the Lord always gives us the grace to turn back, adding that “Lent is a beautiful time to think if I am walking or if I am too stationary,” and to convert.

Concluding his reflections, the Roman Pontiff encouraged those present to consider whether or not they “have mistaken the road” or if they are “a theological tourist, one of these who go around in circles in life but never makes a step forward.”

If the answer to these is yes, then “go confess yourself and resume the path,” the Pope stated, praying that the Lord give to all “the grace to resume the path, to set out … toward the promises.”


Voices

Our timidity in the face of God's abundance

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

My youth had both its strengths and its weaknesses. I grew up on a farm in heart of the Canadian prairies, a second-generation immigrant. Our family was a large one and the small farm we lived on gave us enough to live on, though just enough. There were never any extras.

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