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 CNS Story:

POPE-FEAR Jul-2-2013 (410 words) xxxi

Pope: Escape from sin, don't be afraid of where God will take you

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Don't let sin and temptation be a trap -- flee from evil and don't look back, Pope Francis said.

Sometimes "the only answer is to flee and not be embarrassed about fleeing. Recognize that we are weak and we have to run away" from harmful sins, he said July 2 during his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Just like the saying, "For he that fights and runs away, may live to fight another day," people should see that they might need "to escape in order to go forward on the path of Jesus," the pope said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

The pope focused his homily on the day's reading from Genesis in which angels warned Lot and his family to quickly run away before God rained sulphurous fire upon the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was slow in leaving and his wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back on the chaos.

The pope said it's normal to be hesitant like Lot and even nostalgic like his wife when trying to escape from sin.

"It's very difficult to cut oneself off from a sinful situation, even from temptation," he said.

It's as if there is something holding one back, he said, a kind of curiosity about what that sin may really be like or nostalgia for the familiar, even though it came with the bonds of slavery.

But God is telling people, "Escape! You cannot fight there because the fire and the sulfur will kill you," the pope said.

When facing sin, "Flee without nostalgia, curiosity is harmful," he said. "Escape without looking back. Every one of us is weak and we have to defend ourselves."

Fear, too, prevents people from turning their back on evil -- the "fear of going forward" or the fear "of where the Lord will take me," he said.

Fear, however, "is not a good adviser," the pope said. Listen to Jesus, who said, "Be not afraid," and turn to God for help.

By turning to God in times of trouble, people will experience the beauty and wonder of his presence, he said.

"We are not naive or lukewarm Christians; we are valiant, courageous," he said.

"We are weak, but we have to be courageous in our weakness. Many times we must show our courage by fleeing and not looking back," he said. "Don't be afraid and always look to the Lord."

END


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