At the general audience, the Pope speaks of the temptation “of the new fundamentalists” to close the Christian life in a list of precepts by seeking certainties in them, rather than opening oneself to freedom and to the newness of God’s love, the only one that brings into human life the gifts of peace and joy
Amedeo Lomonaco – Vatican City
Even today many “are in search of religious security rather than the living and true God” and focus “on rituals and precepts rather than embracing the God of love with all oneself”. This is the “temptation of the new fundamentalists”: the road scares them and “they go backwards because they feel safer: they seek God’s security and not the God of security”. Pope Francis underlined this at the general audience, focusing his catechesis on the letter to the Galatians. (Listen to the report with the Pope’s voice)
Let us put ourselves in front of Christ Crucified
The Pontiff recalled that “St. Paul’s preaching is entirely centered on Jesus and his paschal mystery”. To the Galatians, “tempted to base their religiosity on the observance of precepts and traditions”, the Apostle reminds “the center of salvation and faith: the death and resurrection of the Lord”.
If we lose the thread of the spiritual life, if a thousand problems and thoughts haunt us, we take Paul’s advice: let’s put ourselves in front of Christ Crucified, let’s start again from Him. Let’s take the Crucifix in our hands, let’s hold it tight to our hearts. Or we pause in adoration before the Eucharist, where Jesus is Bread broken for us, the Risen Crucifix, the power of God who pours his love into our hearts.
The Holy Spirit changes the heart
Led by Saint Paul, Francis exhorted to take “a further step” moved by a question.
Let us ask ourselves: what happens when we encounter Jesus Crucified in prayer? What happened under the cross happens: Jesus hands over the Spirit (cf. Jn 19:30), that is, he gives his own life. And the Spirit, which springs from Jesus’ Passover, is the principle of the spiritual life. It is He who changes the heart: not our works. It is He who changes the heart, not the things we do, but the action of the Holy Spirit in us changes the heart! It is he who guides the Church, and we are called to obey his action, which sweeps where and how he wants.
Full video of the general audience of 27-10-2021
The spiritual struggle
The life of the community, Francis explained, “is regenerated in the Holy Spirit”. And it is always thanks to the Holy Spirit that the Christian life is nourished and the “spiritual struggle” continues. Precisely the spiritual battle “is another great teaching of the Letter to the Galatians”.
The Apostle presents two opposing fronts: on the one hand the “works of the flesh”, on the other the “fruit of the Spirit”. What are the works of the flesh? They are behaviors contrary to the Spirit of God. The Apostle calls them works of the flesh not because there is something wrong or bad in our human flesh; indeed, we have seen how he insists on the realism of the human flesh carried by Christ on the cross! Flesh is a word that indicates man in his only earthly dimension, closed in on himself, in a horizontal life, where worldly instincts are followed and the door is closed to the Spirit, who raises us up and opens us to God and to others. . But the flesh also remembers that all this ages, that all this passes away, rots, while the Spirit gives life.
“Brothers, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, magnanimity, benevolence, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control; against these things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Letter to the Galatians, Gal 5: 22-24) “
The fruit of the Spirit
The Apostle Paul, Francis recalled, lists “the works of the flesh, which refer to the selfish use of sexuality, to magical practices that are idolatry and to what undermines interpersonal relationships, such as” discord, jealousy, dissensions, divisions, factions , envy. “All this is the fruit” of the flesh “, of a behavior that is only” human “. The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, is” love, joy, peace, magnanimity, benevolence, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control “Christians, the Pope said,” are called to live like this. “It can be a good spiritual exercise” to read the list of St. Paul and look at one’s own conduct, to see if it corresponds, if our life is truly according to the Holy Spirit, if he bears these fruits. “For example, the first three listed are love, peace and joy:” from here we recognize a person inhabited by the Spirit. “” A person who is at peace, who is joyful and loving. With these three traces we see the Spirit “.
This teaching of the Apostle also poses a great challenge to our communities. At times, those who approach the Church have the impression of being faced with a dense mass of commands and precepts: but no, this is not the Church! This can be any association. But, in reality, one cannot grasp the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ starting from too many commandments and from a moral vision which, developing in many streams, can make us forget the original fruitfulness of love, nourished by prayer that gives peace. and of joyful witness.
Animated by the breath of the Spirit of love
In the same way, the Pope observed, “the life of the Spirit expressed in the Sacraments cannot be suffocated by a bureaucracy that prevents access to the grace of the Spirit, author of the conversion of the heart”. How many times, the Pontiff said off the cuff, bishops and priests follow “so much bureaucracy to give a sacrament” and people “go away”: “many times they do not see in us the power of the Spirit which regenerates, which makes us new to all “.
We therefore have the great responsibility of announcing the crucified and risen Christ animated by the breath of the Spirit of love. Because it is only this Love that has the strength to attract and change the heart of man.
After the catechesis, the Pope greeted the English-speaking pilgrims, “especially the young people from various countries working towards COP26 in Glasgow and groups from the United States of America”. “Upon all of you and your families – he said – I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord”.
“Yes to life”
Greeting the Polish faithful, Francis then recalled that at the request of a foundation of the country called “Yes to life” he blessed today the bells that bear the name: “The voice of the unborn”. “They are destined for Ecuador and Ukraine. For these nations and for all they are a sign of commitment in favor of the defense of human life from conception to natural death “.” May their sound – the Pope finally affirmed – announce to the world the ‘Gospel of life’, awaken consciences of men and the memory of the unborn. I entrust to your prayer every conceived child whose life is sacred and inviolable ”.