Pope Francis: Jesus Came to Transform the World, Not ‘Adapt’ to It

circa 1900: A mosaic of Christ from the Cathedral in Il Salvatore, Cefalm, Sicily. (Photo
Hulton Archive/Getty

Amidst calls for Christians to catch up with the times and be more like the world around them, Pope Francis said Wednesday that Jesus “was not one to adapt to the world” but came rather to transform it.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is an ongoing challenge to the world rather than a mirror of society, Francis suggested in his weekly General Audience before a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

“Jesus is not one to adapt to the world, tolerating that death, sadness, hatred and the moral destruction of the person should endure in it… Our God is not inert, but dreams of the transformation of the world, and He brought it about in the mystery of the Resurrection,” he said.

In every generation, Christians must struggle with the question of how far they should adapt to the ways of the world, and in what ways they should remain distinct from it.

As the “world” embraces same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, radical individualism, sexual libertinism and materialistic consumerism, Christians hold up God’s vision for the human person and society, which calls the world to a higher standard.

The Pope’s words Wednesday seemed to echo the thought of Saint Paul, who wrote in his letter to Christians in Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Jesus himself told his followers that they must be like the salt of the earth, not just blending in but conferring a distinct flavor to the world around them.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot,” He said.

During his trip to Fatima, Portugal, last weekend, Pope Francis reminded all Christians and people of good will that human choices and actions have eternal consequences.

In her appearance at Fatima, the Virgin Mary “foresaw and warned us of the risk of hell where a godless life that profanes Him in his creatures will lead,” Francis said during the canonization Mass Saturday. Such a life is “frequently proposed and imposed,” he said.

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