The passage from the Gospel of Luke advising against hiding “behind religious masks” caught social media users’ attention after Pope Francis held Sunday mass service in Vatican City during the weekend.
The verse from Chapter 12 says: “By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples.”
“He said to them: ‘Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever, before long you’ll be exposed,” the message continued. “You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public, the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”
"You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town." -- Luke 12:3, msg pic.twitter.com/9lglsdGsy3— Arkansas Woman (@loveozarks) May 8, 2020
The passage has been making rounds on social media since the start of the pandemic, but according to some media outlets, including the Express, it was especially highlighted after the Pope Francis’ service, during which the Pontiff gave a blessing from his window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square. For a couple of months, the pope’s religious messages have been live-streamed due to to self-isolation measures, but many religious sites, including St. Peter’s Basilica, have now been reopened to the public as the lockdown rules have begun easing down.
It is not that clear though how the cited verse relates to the physical wearing of personal protective equipment, as it seems that the Jesus’s message was mainly a metaphor condemning hypocritical behaviour among preachers, but some still referred to the passage to criticise the need to wear masks publicly.
Perhaps u could order the church to hold virtual services only until it is proven safe to return to in-person masses. I don't want my old dad to die because he went to mass. His church doesn't require people to wear masks. Put God's people first, not the interests of the church.— MaryV (@MaryV409) May 24, 2020
The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention earlier strongly advised people to use masks or other cover ups when in public in order to prevent spreading infection or getting infected themselves, while some health authorities maintained that the measure should come only as an additional step to already exercised social distancing practices. Many thus criticised the idea to hold public services in general until the health situation improves. Meanwhile, many religious figures, including several clergymen across the United States, refused to shut down religious establishments and continued holding services attracting thousands of worshippers.