“God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline,” said Pope Francis Monday, citing Saint Paul. The Pope went after spiritual wimpiness, saying that timidity and shame are the enemies of Christians.
Two things work against “living faith,” said Francis during his daily Mass, “the spirit of timidity and shame.”
“God has not given us a spirit of timidity,” Francis said. “The spirit of timidity goes against the gift of faith, keeps it from growing, moving forward, and becoming great.”
The Pope said that shame, on the other hand, is that sin that says: “Yes, I have faith, but I conceal it so that it doesn’t show too much.” Shame makes us dabble in the faith without committing, Francis said, because we’re “ashamed to live it seriously.”
“This is not faith,” Francis said, “neither shyness nor shame.” Faith is “a spirit of power and of love and of prudence. This is faith,” he said.
We have to watch over our faith, Francis said, “so that it doesn’t get watered down, so that it continues to be strong with the power of the Holy Spirit who gave it to us.”
If we are not careful to rekindle the gift of our faith every day, he said, “then it becomes weak, watered down and winds up becoming just a culture.”
“Let’s ask the Lord’s grace,” the Pope said, “to have an outspoken faith, a faith that is not negotiable depending on the situations that present themselves.”
Pope Francis also underscored the role of women in passing on the faith. Commenting on the same text where Saint Paul says that Timothy received his faith from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice, Francis said that women—mothers and grandmothers—are often the ones to pass on the faith to new generations.
“It is mothers and grandmothers,” Francis said, “who pass on the faith.” Faith is a gift that passes through the “beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers” who transmit the faith, he said.
“Why is it that women are often the ones to pass on the faith?” Francis asked. “Simply because the one that brought us Jesus is a woman. She was the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother: the gift of faith comes through women, as Jesus comes through Mary,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome