Pope: God's love is central, not the 'bureaucracy' of precepts and traditions
The "new fundamentalists": the road frightens them and "they turn back because they feel safer: they seek the security of God and not the God of security". Francis blessed two bells, destined for Ecuador and Ukraine. "May their sound announce the 'Gospel of life' to the world, awaken the consciences of men and the memory of the unborn. I entrust to your prayers every child conceived, whose life is sacred and inviolable".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - One cannot grasp the beauty of faith in Jesus "starting from too many commandments and a moral vision that, developing in many rivulets, can make one forget the original fruitfulness of love, nourished by peace-giving prayer and joyful witness", nor can "the life of the Spirit that expresses itself in the Sacraments" be suffocated by a "bureaucracy" that prevents access to the grace of the Spirit and that at times is done by "ourselves: bishops, priests".
"The fruit of the Spirit" was the theme of this week's catechesis on Paul's Letter to the Galatians, during the general audience with eight thousand people present in the Paul VI Hall.
Francis pointed out that Galatians, "tempted to base their religiosity on the observance of precepts and traditions", Paul reminds them that the centre of salvation and faith is the death and resurrection of the Lord. "Today," he added, "Today, there are many who still seek religious security rather than the living and true God, focusing on rituals and precepts instead of embracing God’s love with their whole being. This is why Paul asks the Galatians to return to what is essential, to the God who gives us life in Christ crucified."
"Let us ask ourselves: what happens when we meet Jesus Crucified in prayer? The same thing that happened under the cross: Jesus gave up his Spirit (cf. Jn. 19:30), that is, he gives his own life. And the Spirit which flows forth from Jesus’ Passover is the origin of the spiritual life. He changes hearts: not our works, but the action of the Holy Spirit in us! He guides the Church and we are called to be obedient to his action, who blows where and how he wills. Moreover, it was precisely the awareness that the Holy Spirit had descended over everyone, and that His grace was at work without excluding anyone, that convinced even the most reluctant of the Apostles that the Gospel was meant for everyone and not for a privileged few. Those who seek security, the small groups".
And it is thanks to the Spirit, he said, that "it is always thanks to Him that we nourish our Christian lives and continue to engage in our spiritual battle. It is precisely the spiritual combat that is another important teaching in the Letter to the Galatians. The Apostle presents two opposing fronts: on the one side, the “works of the flesh”, and on the other, the “fruit of the Spirit”. What are the works of the flesh? They are behaviours that are contrary to the Spirit of God. The Apostle calls them works of the flesh not because there is something erroneous or bad about our human bodies. Instead, we have seen how much he insisted on the realism of the human flesh that Christ brought to the cross! Flesh is a word that indicates the person’s earthly dimension, closed in on itself in a horizontal existence, following worldly instincts and closing the door to the Spirit who lifts us up and opens us up to God and others.But the flesh also reminds us that everything gets old and passes, withers, while the Spirit gives life."
In Paul, the "works of the flesh" refer to "tPaul lists the works of the flesh which refer to the selfish use of sexuality, to magical practices connected with idolatry and to all that undermines interpersonal relationships such as “enmity, jealousy, dissension, divisions, factions, envy…” (cf. Gal 5:19-21). The fruit of the Spirit, instead, is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). Christians, who in baptism have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27), are called to live as such. It can be a good spiritual exercise to read Saint Paul’s list and take a look at our own behaviour to see if it corresponds, if we are truly living according to the Holy Spirit, if we are bearing these fruits. For example, the first three that are listed are love, peace and joy: a person in whom the Spirit of God dwells can be recognized by these traits. The Apostle’s teaching poses quite a challenge for our communities too. Sometimes, those who approach the Church get the impression that they are dealing with a dense mass of rules and regulations. But, in reality, the beauty of faith in Jesus Christ cannot be grasped on the basis of so many commandments or of a moral vision developed in many layers which can make us forget the original fruitfulness of love nourished by prayer from which peace and joyful witness flow. In the same way, the life of the Spirit, expressed in the Sacraments, cannot be suffocated by a bureaucracy that prevents access to the grace of the Spirit, the initiator of conversion of heart. We therefore have the huge responsibility of proclaiming Christ crucified and risen, enlivened by the breath of the Spirit of love. For it is this Love alone that possesses the power to attract and change the human heart".
The sacredness of life was finally reiterated by the Pope in his greeting to the Polish faithful, when he said that "at the request of the Polish foundation 'Yes to Life', today I blessed the bells that bear the name 'The Voice of the Unborn'. They are destined for Ecuador and Ukraine. For these nations and for all, may they be a sign of commitment to the defence of human life from conception to natural death. May their sound announce to the world the 'Gospel of life', awaken people's consciences and the memory of the unborn. I entrust to your prayers every conceived child, whose life is sacred and inviolable".