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Pope Francis Where there is rigidity there is no Spirit of God 15.05.20


Pope Francis: Where there is rigidity there is no Spirit of God 15.05.20



Pope Francis   15.05.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter     Acts 15: 22-31

Pope Francis Rigid Christians 15.05.20

Today is World Family Day: let us pray for families, so that the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love, respect and freedom, may grow in families.

In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles we see that in the early Church, there were times of peace, it says so many times: the Church grew, in peace, and the Spirit of the Lord spread (Acts 9: 31); times of peace. There were also times of persecution, beginning with the persecution of Stephen, then Paul the persecutor, he converted, but then was also persecuted. Times of peace, times of persecution, and there were also times of turmoil. And this is the subject of today's first Reading: a time of turmoil (Acts 15: 22-31). "We have heard that some of us," the apostles wrote to Christians who had converted from paganism, "have heard that some of us, without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and have disturbed your peace of mind" (15: 24).

What had happened? These Christians who were pagans had believed in Jesus Christ and had received baptism, and they were happy: they had received the Holy Spirit. From paganism to Christianity, without any intermediate stage. Instead, these people who were called "the Judaizers," argued that this could not be done. If someone was a pagan, they first had to become a Jew, a good Jew, and then become a Christian, to be in line with the election of the people of God. And these Christians did not understand this: "But how are we second-class Christians? Can't we go from paganism directly to Christianity? Isn't it that the resurrection of Christ has dissolved the ancient law and brought it to an even greater fullness?" They were upset and there were so many discussions between them. And those who wanted this were people who with pastoral arguments, theological topics, even some morals, argued that no, that we should take proceed like this! And this called into question the freedom of the Holy Spirit, even the gratuitousness of Christ's resurrection and grace. They were methodical. And also rigid.

Of these, of the teachers, of the doctors of the Law, Jesus had said: "Woe to you who travel to land and sea to make a single convert, and when you have found him , you make him like a son of Gehenna, twice worse than you." More or less Jesus says this in the 23rd chapter of Matthew (see v. 15). These people, who were "ideological", rather than "dogmatic", "ideological", had reduced the Law, the dogma to an ideology: "you must do this, and this, and this...". A religion of prescriptions, and with this they took away the freedom of the Holy Spirit. And the people who followed them were rigid people, people who didn't feel comfortable, didn't know the joy of the Gospel. The perfection of the way to follow Jesus was rigidity: "You must do this, this, this, this...". These people, these doctors "manipulated" the consciences of the faithful and either made them rigid or they left.

For this reason, I repeat myself many times and say that rigidity is not from the good Spirit, because it calls into question the gratuitousness of redemption, the gratuitousness of Christ's resurrection. And this is an old thing: throughout the history of the Church, this has been repeated. Let's think about the Pelagians, those who were famously rigid. And even in our time we saw some apostolic organizations that seemed just well organized, that worked well..., but all rigid, all exactly the same as the other, and then we learned about the corruption that was inside, even in the founders.

Where there is rigidity there is no Spirit of God, because the Spirit of God is freedom. And these people wanted to act by removing the freedom of the Spirit of God and the gratuitousness of redemption: "To be justified, you must do this, this, this, this...". Justification is free. The death and resurrection of Christ is free. You don't pay, you don't buy: it's a gift! And they didn't want to do this.

The way forward is beautiful: the apostles come together in this council and in the end write a letter that says: "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any other burdens beyond these essentials." (Acts 15: 28), and they put these obligations, morals of common sense: not to confuse Christianity with paganism, with abstaining from the meat offered to idols, etc. And in the end, these troubled Christians gathered in the assembly and, "when they read it, they were delighted with the encouragement it gave them"(v. 31). From turmoil to joy. The spirit of rigidity always leads you to turmoil: "But did I do this well? Didn't I do it right?" Scrupulosity. The spirit of evangelical freedom leads you to joy, because that is precisely what Jesus did with his resurrection: he brought joy! The relationship with God, the relationship with Jesus is not a relationship, of "doing things": "I do this and You give me this". A relationship like this, is say – forgive me Lord – commercial, no! It is free, as is Jesus' relationship with the disciples. "You are my friends"(John 15: 14). "I don't call you slaves, I call you friends" (see v. 15). "It was not you who chose me, but I chose you" (v. 16). This is gratuitousness.

Let us ask the Lord to help us discern the fruits of evangelical gratuitousness from the fruits of non-evangelical rigidity, and to free us from any turmoil of those who put faith, the life of faith under detailed prescriptions, prescriptions that make no sense. I am referring to these prescriptions that make no sense, not the Commandments. Let us free ourselves from this spirit of rigidity that takes away your freedom.