VATICAN CITY – Salvation has nothing to do with the “theology of prosperity” some people claim to see in the Gospel, thinking material well-being comes with faith, Pope Francis said.

In fact, he said, those who proclaim salvation must live simply, in accordance with Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts”.

At the Feb 5 morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives, Pope Francis focused on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 6:7-13, and how Jesus’ instructions to His disciples are still valid today.

The Gospel “must be proclaimed in poverty”, the pope said, because “salvation is not a theology of prosperity” but the “good news” of liberation for all who are oppressed. “This is the mission of the Church, the Church that heals and cures,” he said.

One who strays from the purity of the Christian message risks presenting the Church as a philanthropic organisation rather than an evangelising one, he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Bringing Christ to the poor, the wounded and the prisoners, he said, includes providing material assistance “because the Lord gives us gifts for that reason. But when we forget our mission, when we forget to live in poverty and forget our apostolic zeal and instead place our trust in our means, the Church slowly slips into being a non-governmental organisation.”

“It can become a great organisation, powerful,” he said, “but it is not evangelical because it is lacking that spirit, that poverty, that power to heal.”

The greatest praise any Christian can receive, the pope said, is being lauded as “a worker for the kingdom” because that means he or she proclaimed Jesus and helped people draw closer to God and find healing and peace.

- CNS

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