In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, Pope Francis warns against letting our hearts wander unwittingly into apostasy.
Pope Francis reflected on the First Reading (1 Kgs 11:4-13), which tells of the “apostasy of Solomon” as he turns away from the Lord in his old age.
“When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods,” the passage says of King David’s son.
Slow slide into apostasy
Pope Francis said King Solomon began as a “good boy”, who asked the Lord for wisdom and received it. Judges, and even the Queen of Sheba in Africa, came bearing gifts because they had heard of his wisdom.
At that time, said the Pope, it was possible to have more than one wife, even though, he explained, that did not mean it was licit to be “a womanizer”.
But Solomon’s heart became weak not because he married several women, but because they came from other peoples who served other gods. He fell into “a trap” by letting his wives convince him to adore their idols, “entering into paganism”.
“His wasn’t an apostasy from one day to the next,” said Pope Francis. “It was a slow apostasy.” King Solomon did not just sin once but “slid” into sin.
“The women led his heart astray, and the Lord rebuked him: ‘You turned away your heart.’ This happens in our own lives. None of us is a criminal; none of us commits great sins like David did with the wife of Uriah. But wherein lies the danger? Letting ourselves slide slowly, because it is an anesthetized fall. You don’t even realize it, but slowly you slip. Things get relativized, and faithfulness to God is lost. These women were from other peoples – they had their own gods – and how often do we forget the Lord and begin to deal with other gods: money, vanity, pride. But this is done slowly, and without the grace of God everything is lost.”
Beware of worldliness
Pope Francis then recalled Psalm 106, to underline how “mingling with the nations” and serving their idols means becoming worldly and pagan.
“For us this slippery slide in life is directed toward worldliness. This is the grave sin: ‘Everyone is doing it. Don’t worry about it; obviously it’s not ideal, but…’ We justify ourselves with these words, at the price of losing our faithfulness to the one and only God. They are modern idols. Let us consider this sin of worldliness, of losing the authenticity of the Gospel, the authenticity of the Word of God, and the love of God who gave His life for us. There is no way to maintain a good relationship with God and with the devil.”
The love of God will save us
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited us to ask the Lord for the grace to stop ourselves when we notice that our heart has begun to slip away from Him.
“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand when our heart begins to weaken and to slide, so that we can stop. His grace and love will stop that slide if we ask in prayer.”