Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta this morning. In remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the theme of Christian freedom, saying that the follower of Christ is a “slave” – but of love, not of duty, and urging the faithful not to hide in the “rigidity” of the Commandments.
The Pope took the Responsorial Psalm, 103 (104) as his starting point: a “song of praise” to God for His wonders. “The Father,” said Pope Francis, “works to make this wonder of creation and with His Son to accomplish this wonder of re-creation.” Pope Francis also recalled an episode in which a child asked him what God was doing before He created the world: “He was loving,” was the response.
Open your heart, do not take refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments
Why then did God create the world? “Simply to share His fullness,” Francis said. “To have someone to whom [to give] and with whom to share His fullness.” In the re-creation, God sends His Son to “set things right” – to make “the ugly one handsome, of the mistake a true [cast], of the villain a good guy”:
“When Jesus says: ‘The Father is always at work: I, too, am always at work,’ the teachers of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him for this. Why? Because they could not receive the things of God as a gift! Only as Justice: ‘These are the Commandments: but they are few, let’s make more. And instead of opening their heart to the gift, they hid, have sought refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments, which they had multiplied up to 500 or more … They did not know how to receive the gift – and the gift is only received with freedom – and these rigid characters were afraid of the freedom that God gives us: they were afraid of love.”
The Christian is a slave of love, not of duty
The Pope went on to note that it was after that, that the Gospels tell us, “They wanted to kill Jesus.” To this, he added, “Because he said that the Father made this wonder as a gift: receive the gift of the Father!”:
“And that is why today we have praised the Father: ‘You are great, O Lord! I love you so much, for you have given this gift. You saved me, you created me.’ And this is the prayer of praise, the prayer of joy, the prayer that gives us the joy of the Christian life. And not the closed, sad prayer of the person who never knew how to receive a gift because he is afraid of freedom that always carries with it a gift. Such a one knows only how to do duty, but closed duty. Slaves of duty, but not love: when you become a slave of love, you are free! It is a beautiful bondage that, but such men did not understand that.”
Ask how we receive the gift of redemption and forgiveness of God
Here, then, are the “two wonders of the Lord,” he went on to say: “the wonder of creation and the wonder of redemption, the re-creation.” The he asked, “How do I receive this gift that God has given me – creation? And if I receive it as a gift, do I love creation, do I care for the created order?” The reason, he stressed, is that it is a gift:
“How do I receive the redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, the making of me a son with His Son? Lovingly, tenderly, with freedom? Or do I hide in the rigidity of the closed Commandments, that are more and more “safe” – with emphasis on the scare-quotes – but that do not give joy, because they does not make you free. Each of us ought to ask himself wonder how he is experiencing these two wonders: the wonder of creation and even greater wonder of re-creation. May the Lord make us understand this great thing and make us understand what He was doing before creating the world: He was loving. Let us understand His love for us, and may we say – as we said today: ‘Lord, you are great! Thank you, thank you!’ Let us go forward like this.