Pope Francis said Tuesday that truthfulness is the weapon against the temptation of hypocrisy, which destroys the community with lies and flattery.
“The hypocrite is capable of destroying a community. While speaking gently, he ruinously judges a person. He is a killer,” said the Pope during his homily at Mass June 6 at the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.
Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel passage in which the Pharisees and Herodians, who tried to ensnare Christ with his words, began by flattery.
“The hypocrite always uses language to flatter,” said the Pope, explaining that they will exaggerate the truth, “feeding into one’s vanity.”
He continued to the say that hypocrites are two-faced, and “the language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit, it is the same language the serpent used with Eve.”
He gave an example of a priest he met who “drank up all the flattery,” and he said that flattery is initiated by bad intentions. He said the Pharisees were trying to hide their true intentions, hoping to test Christ by asking him, “is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
However, he said reality and truth are the tools to combat such hypocrisy, and it is Christ who exposes a lie with reality.
“Jesus always responds to hypocrites and ideologists with reality: ‘this is the reality; everything else is either hypocrisy or ideology.’”
He continued to say that “the reality was that the coin carried the image of Caesar.”
Hypocrisy not only destroys community, but he said it also “tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person.”
Pope Francis ended his homily asking the Lord to strengthen a commitment to truth by the members of the Church.
“Let us ask the Lord to guard us from this vice, to help us be truthful, and if this is not possible to keep silent – but never to be a hypocrite.”