Scandal, says Pope Francis, is to “profess one way of life – ‘I am a Christian’— and then live like a pagan, who does not believe in anything.”
In his homily at Mass Monday morning, the Pope said that Jesus does not sugarcoat the seriousness of scandal. He prefers, Francis said, a “raw image,” telling us that it is “better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around the neck” than to give scandal, especially to little ones.
“Woe to those who give scandal!” Francis said, quoting Jesus’ words. We give scandal, said the Pope, when we fail to bear witness to what we believe, whereas “a faith proclaimed is a life of witness.”
“When a church-going Christian does not live well, he gives scandal,” the Pope said. “How many times have we heard: ‘I don’t go to church; it is better to be honest at home than be like so-and-so who goes to church and then does such and such.’” Scandal destroys, he said, “it destroys the faith!”
“That is why Jesus speaks so strongly,” Francis continued, ‘Watch yourselves!’ And we do well to repeat this today: ‘Watch yourselves!’ All of us are capable of giving scandal.”
Francis tied this to another of his favorite themes: mercy and forgiveness. “A Christian who is not able to forgive gives scandal,” he said. “He is not a Christian.”
“Human logic leads you to not forgive, to revenge, hatred and division. How many families are broken because they do not know how to forgive!”
Finally, the Pope said that the only way to live without giving scandal is through faith. “Without faith you cannot live without giving scandal,” he said. “Faith is a gift of God that comes to you and this is why the apostles asked Jesus, ‘Increase our faith!’”