Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience on Wednesday 28 November, Pope Francis said his catechesis concludes a series dedicated to the ten Commandments, that he explained, provide us with the key to open ourselves up “to receive His heart, His desires, the Holy Spirit”.
Reflecting on St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians which tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control, ” the Pope said the Spirit plants in our hearts holy desires, which are the seed of new life.
God, the Pope continued, invites us “to be obedient so that He can redeem us from the deception of idolaters who have so much power over us”.
He pointed out that when we seek self-realization in the idols of this world, we are emptied and enslaved, while our relationship with God gives us freedom, stature and consistency.
That relationship with the Father liberates us, he said, explaining that it is strengthened through the Spirit so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.
This liberated life, Pope Francis said, reconciles us with our personal history and makes us adults who are capable “of giving the right value to the realities and to the people in our lives”.
It puts us on a path, he continued, that is grounded and rooted in love and is a call to “the beauty of fidelity, generosity and authenticity” by showing us how to enter into a faithful and loving relationship with God our Father, rejecting false idols, finding our authentic rest in the freedom of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
To be able to live in this way, Francis said, we need “a new heart that is inhabited by the Holy Spirit”.
And reflecting on the need to transition from “an old heart” to a “new heart” the Pope said this happens through the “gift of new desires”, which are sown in our hearts by the grace of God, especially through the Ten Commandments in their fullest sense, as taught by Jesus in the “Sermon on the Mount”.
The Pope explained that in Christ we see “the true, the good and the beautiful” and that the Spirit “sparks in us faith, hope and love”; Jesus, he continued, “did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it”, “to make it grow”.
The Law was perceived, he said, as “a series of prescriptions and prohibitions”, but according to the Spirit it “became life” – no longer norms but “the very flesh of Christ who loves us, seeks us, forgives us, consoles us and in His body recomposes communion with the Father, communion that was lost through the disobedience of sin”.
So, the Pope continued, the negative expression of the Commandments: “thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not bear false witness”, “thou shalt not kill” – is transformed into a positive attitude: “to love, to make room for others in my heart”; this, he said, is “the fullness of the law that Jesus came to bring us”.
In Christ, he explained, the Decalogue ceases to be condemnation and becomes “the authentic truth of human life” where the desire for goodness, for joy, for peace, for magnanimity, for benevolence, for goodness, for fidelity, for meekness, for self-restraint, is born.
So, the Pope said, seeking the Lord in the Decalogue means “to make our hearts fruitful so that they may be filled with love and open to the work of God”.
When we nurture the desire to live according to Christ, Pope Francis added,we open the door to salvation, which is possible because the Lord is generous and “thirsty that we thirst for him”.
This is what the Decalogue is, he concluded: “the contemplation of Christ in order to open ourselves up to receive his heart, to receive his desires, to receive his Holy Spirit.