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    » 10/01/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Christian freedom neither licentiousness nor whim, but conformance to Christ, says Pope



    As he continues to talk about Saint Paul, Benedict XVI refers to the Council of Jerusalem and the so-called incident of Antioch. Paul’s “Gospel of freedom” is illustrated; “only dialogue can lead onto the path of the Church.”
    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christian freedom “never corresponds to licentiousness or the whim to do whatever one wants. It conforms to Christ, and so is authentic service to one’s brothers, especially the neediest.” This is the teaching that Saint Paul draws from the Council of Jerusalem which Benedict XVI proposed again to the 20,000 faithful in St Peter’s Square in today’s general audience, for as was the case between Peter and Paul, “only an open and sincere dialogue can lead onto the path of the Church.”

    Back in the Vatican after his summer break in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope went on to talk about the Apostle of the Nations devoting his reflections to him in the last few Wednesday audiences. Today he focused on two episodes that show Paul’s respect for the Twelve Apostles, and his inner freedom.

    The first episode is the so-called Council of Jerusalem which took place around 50 AD. “The assembly took place at a time of major tensions within the original community.” The debate was especially heated “over the issue of whether Pagans who joined the faith had to be circumcised or were instead exempt from the Law of Moses; closely related to this were dietary rules of purity and impurity and the Sabbath.”

    Against those who saw justice in the respect of the law, Paul offered “his Gospel of freedom from the law after the encounter with the Risen Christ.”

    As he wrote in the Letter to the Galatians “in the Gospel of freedom Christ is justice” for “he is fully expressed in serving his brothers.”

    The Council of Jerusalem “expressed the action of the Holy Spirit,” which for Paul “is the decisive recognition that freedom is shared by all those who took part in it, which is the freedom Christ gave us” in order that “we not let the yoke the slavery be imposed upon us. [. . .] Paul had come to realise that the grace of Christ had released the Gentiles from the rules of the Law of Moses.”

    The other episode the Pope mentioned was the “Cyrene incident” in Turkey, involving a dispute of whether “Jews and Pagans could eat at the same table.” This was “another crucial component of the Law of Moses that separated practicing Jews from Pagans over the issue of dietary purity and impurity.”

    “Initially Peter shared the table with either group but when guests arrived James began avoiding the table of non-Jews and began telling Paul that ‘you who are Jews live with Pagans”. But for Paul “separation from Pagans is a reason to divide. [. . .] If justice is done in accordance with Christ what sense is there in these rules?”

    For Peter what mattered was “not losing Jews who had joined Christianity, for Paul it was not belittling the salvific value of Christ’s death for all believers.”

    The incident in Antioch taught “a lesson to both Peter and Paul,” which is “only an open and sincere dialogue can lead onto the Church’s path.”

    “The kingdom of God is not about food, but about justice and peace,” said the Pope. “The lesson that we too must learn is to let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, trying to live in freedom, whose guidance becomes real in service.”

    “Conforming more to Christ is essential so that we can be truly free. This way true certainty and the deep essence of the law can grow in us, which is the love of God and our fellow man.”

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    See also

    22/10/2008 VATICAN
    For the Pope we can reach heaven and find happiness through humility, not pride
    In continuing his discussion about Saint Paul, Benedict XVI shows how the Apostle’s teachings focus in particular on the death and resurrection of Jesus, who “came down to draw us [to him] and makes us His brothers and sisters.”

    05/03/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Roman primacy is "necessary" in the Church, today as in the past
    Illustrating at the general audience the figure of St Leo the Great, Benedict XVI again asserts the purpose of the primacy of the bishop of Rome and recalls how at the time of the undivided Church he was also recognised by the Eastern bishops.

    10/09/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: bearing the news of God's love is the true mission of the apostle
    Benedict XVI, continuing to illustrate the figure of St Paul, today spoke of what being an "apostle", or one sent, meant to him: bearing a message that was not his own, but that of Jesus.

    11/02/2009 VATICAN
    Faith, hope and charity, a spiritual journey’s start and end, says Pope
    After 20 catecheses devoted to Saint Paul, Benedict XVI in today’s general audience talks again about the great spiritual figures of the Middle Ages. Saint john Climacus and his ‘Ladder of Paradise” show human life’s “climb” towards God.

    11/06/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Colombanus, example of "detachment from earthly goods", rejection of compromise
    Benedict XVI illustrates the life of the holy Irish monk, "one of the fathers of Europe", who shows where the continent's roots are "from which it can be reborn". His was a rigor "not as an end in itself", but "only the means to open oneself freely to the love of God" in order to "repay the gifts received".



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