Instead of sugar-coated words and flattery, when Christians speak they should offer the truth with love, without seeking to serve their own interests, Pope Francis said.
“Let us think closely today: What is our language? Do we speak in truth, with love, or do we speak with that social language to be polite, even say nice things, which we do not feel?” the Pope asked during his June 4 homily in Saint Martha’s House.
Those who are corrupt, he added, “are trying to weaken us with this language” by playing off a “certain inner weakness,” stimulated by “vanity” that enjoys hearing people say good things about us.
The Holy Father’s remarks were spurred by today’s reading from Mark 12, in which a group of Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus by asking him if Jews should pay taxes to Caesar.
These men approached Jesus “with soft words, with beautiful words, with overly sweet words. They try to show themselves his friends,” the Pope said.
However, all of their posturing is false because “they do not love the truth” but only themselves, Pope Francis stated. This results in the Pharisees trying to deceive Jesus about the reason for their questions.
“Hypocrisy is the very language of corruption. And when Jesus speaks to his disciples, he says: ‘let your language be, Yes, yes! No, no.’”
The Pope then stressed that truth is always accompanied by love.
“There is no truth without love. Love is the first truth. If there is no love, there is no truth. They want a truth enslaved to their interests. There is a love, of sorts: it is love of self, love for oneself. That narcissist idolatry that leads them to betray others, that leads them to the abuse of trust,” he told the congregation.
He highlighted that betrayal by noting that with Jesus, those who “seem so amiable in their language, are the same people who will go to fetch him on Thursday evening in the Garden of Olives, and will bring him to Pilate on Friday.”
Jesus’ command to speak truth with love stands in stark relief to this way of acting, the Pope said, as he described how it is the “language of the simple, the language of a child, the language of the children of God … .”
“And the meekness that Jesus wants us to have, has nothing, has nothing of this adulation, this sickly sweet way of going on. Nothing! Meekness is simple, it is like that of a child. And a child is not hypocritical, because it is not corrupt. When Jesus says to us: ‘Let your speech be, Yes is yes! No, is no! ‘with the soul of a child,’ he means the exact opposite to the speech of these (hypocrites).”
The morning Mass was concelebrated by the Armenian Catholic Patriarch, Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy in Sri Lanka, and Msgr. Jean Luis Brugues of the Vatican Library.