Faith means more than empty rites

 To be a Christian means more than simply taking part in rituals - the Pope said during his Wednesday audience. Speaking to more than 3,000 he said: "God refuses worship isolated from life, liturgy separated from justice, prayer detached from daily efforts, faith devoid of works." Quoting from the prophet Amos, he said God "turns his gaze from us and not accepting the rites, feasts, fasts, music, and supplications, when a just man is sold for money outside the sanctuary, a poor man for a pair of sandals, and the head of the poor is trampled on like dust". St Paul was no less exacting, he said: "In face of a community plagued by divisions and injustice, as Corinth was, Paul reaches the point of calling for the suspension of Eucharistic participation, asking Christians to examine their own conscience first, so as not to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." However, the Pope added "efforts for justice, the struggle against every oppression, and the safeguarding of the dignity of the person, are not expressions of philanthropy motivated solely by membership in the human family. Instead, they are choices and acts that have a profoundly religious inspiration, they are true and proper sacrifices that are pleasing to God." The Pope said that justice was at the centre of the Jubilee since the time of Leviticus. It was the year of the liberation of slaves and the restoration of expropriated or lost lands. "In the modern context this could mean the return of lost lands, as I have proposed several times; or in the total cancellation, or at least reduction, of the international debt of poor countries," the Pope added. The liberation that is meant to come at the end of the Jubilee is not liberation based on violence or class struggle, but on "solidarity of the poor among themselves, solidarity with the poor, to which the rich are called, solidarity of workers and with workers." "At the end of the life of every person, and at the close of the history of humanity, God's judgment will be based on love, the practice of justice, and assistance to the poor."

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