The Second Reading at Mass on this Fourth Sunday of Lent is taken from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where he reminds Christians that we are saved, not by our own efforts but by God’s grace that seeks to co-operate with us. In this extract below from Pope Francis’ ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’, the Holy Father warns against a legal and rigid understanding of our faith that kills its spirit:
‘Some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help and personal fulfilment. Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ’ (Pope Francis, Rejoice and Be Glad, 57).