"From the beginning, the Tempter wants to deceive man and woman", convincing them that "God forbade them the fruit of the tree of good and evil to keep them submissive. The challenge is this: the first rule that God has given to man, is it the imposition of a despot who prohibits and compels, or is it the love of a father who is taking care of his children? ".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The commandments are the path to freedom because they are the Father’s word that free us". Pope Francis thus summarized his catechesis for the general audience, in which, continuing the new cycle of reflections dedicated to the Commandments, he spoke about the theme: "Ten Words" to live the Covenant".
20 thousand people were present in St. Peter's Square for the general audience – which was preceded by a meeting in the Paul VI hall with a group of over 200 SLA sufferers on the occasion of the World Day dedicated to them, tomorrow, 21 June. Francis began by saying: “in the Bible the commandments do not exist autonomously, but are part of a relationship. The Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to bring it to fulfilment. And there is that relationship, of the Covenant. between God and His People. At the beginning of Chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus we read – and this is important – “And God spoke all these words” (v. 1). It appears to be an opening like any other, but nothing in the Bible is banal. The text does not say, “And God spoke these commandments”, but “these words”. The Jewish tradition always calls the Decalogue “the ten Words”. And the term “Decalogue” is intended to say precisely this. And yet they have the form of laws, they are objectively commandments. Why, then, does the holy Author use, right here, the term “ten Words”? Why? And why not “ten commandments”?"
"What difference is there between a command and a word? A command is essentially a communication that does not require dialogue. The word, on the other hand, is the essential means of relations as dialogue. God the Father creates by means of His Word, and His Son is the Word made flesh. Love is nurtured by words, like education or collaboration. Two people who do not love each other are not able to communicate. When someone speaks to our heart, our loneliness comes to an end. A word is received, communication is given, and the commandments are words of God: God communicates Himself in these ten Words, and awaits our response".
"It is one thing to receive an order, another to perceive that someone is trying to speak with us. A dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. I can say to you: “Today is the last day of spring, it is hot for spring, but today is the last day”. This is truth, it is not dialogue. But if I say to you, “What do you think of this spring?”, I initiate a dialogue. The commandments are a dialogue. Communication is carried out for the pleasure of speaking and for the real good that is communicated between those who wish each other well, by means of words. It is a good that does not consist in things, but in the same people who reciprocally give each other in dialogue (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 142)2.
"But this difference is not something artificial. Let us look at what happened at the beginning. The temptor, the devil, wishes to deceive the man and the woman on this point: he wants to convince them that God has forbidden them to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil to keep them in submission. The challenge is precisely this: is the first rule that God gave to man the imposition of a despot who forbids and compels, or is it the care of a father who cares for his young and protects them from self-destruction? Is it a word or is it a command? The most tragic, among the many lies that the serpent tells Eve, is the suggestion of an envious deity: “But no, God is envious of you” – and of a possessive deity – “God does not want you to have freedom”. The facts show dramatically that the serpent lied (cf. Gen 2: 16-17; 3: 4-5), he made them believe that a word of love was a command".
"Man faces this crossroads: does God impose things or does He take care of me? Are His commandments just a law, or do they contain a word, to care for me? Is God master or father? God is the Father: never forget this. Even in the worst situations, think that we have a Father Who loves us all. Are we subjects or offspring? This conflict, within or outside us, presents itself continually: a thousand times we must choose between the mentality of slaves or the mentality of sons. The commandment is that of a father, the word is that of a Father".
"The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of sons, He is the Spirit of Jesus. A spirit of slaves cannot but receive the Law in an oppressive way, and can produce two opposing results: either a life made up of duties and obligations, or a violent reaction of rejection. All Christianity is the passage from the letter of the Law to the Spirit that gives it life (cf. "2 Cor 3: 6-17). Jesus is the Word of the Father, not the Father’s condemnation. Jesus came to save, with His Word, not to condemn us. We can see when a man or a woman has experienced this passage or not. People realize if a Christian reasons like a son or a slave. And we ourselves remember whether our educators took care of us like fathers or mothers, or if they simply imposed rules. The commandments are the path towards freedom, because they are the word of the Father that makes us free in this journey. The world needs not legalism, but care. It needs Christians with the heart of sons.It needs Christians with the heart of sons: do not forget this”.