The Pontiff reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which speaks of the chief priests asking Jesus by what authority he did his works.
Their insistence to find out from Jesus, Francis said, demonstrates the “hypocritical heart” of those authorities who were not interested in the truth, but only in seeking their own interests.
“This is the drama of these people,” he stressed, reminding those present that Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism.
Such people, the Argentine Pontiff suggested, went where the wind blew: “You should go this way, you should go that way… They were weathervanes, all of them! All of them! Without consistency.”
Reflecting on those with "hearts without consistency," the Pope said, "They negotiated everything," including their interior freedom, faith, country.
The one thing they didn't negotiate, he said, was appearances. The most important thing for such people was getting the best and most out of every situation: "They were opportunists. They profited from the situations.”
“And yet,” he continued, “some of you might ask me: ‘But Father, these people were observers of the law.'"
Responding, Francis admitted, "they were a very observant people, very secure in their habits. Yes, it’s true – but only in appearance." He noted, "They were strong, but on the outside. The heart was very weak, they didn’t know what they believed."
Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that the Christian should have a strong and firm heart, one "built on the rock, that is Christ." With that foundation, such a heart is not negotiable.
“This is the drama of the hypocrisy of this people," he repeated. The Pharisees were so rigid in their discipline, saying: ‘No, the discipline can’t be touched, it’s sacred.’”
He noted, they were "rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart.”
“Even our life can become like that," the Pope said, "And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside.
"I ask the Lord: ‘But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Saviour."
Many times a sin, Pope Francis said, "will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”