the Law



Jesus explained to those who accused him of wishing to change the Mosaic Laws. He reassured them, saying “I have come not to abolish but to fulfil”. For the law, “is a fruit of the Covenant. It is impossible to understand the law without the Covenant. The law is more or less the way to enter the Covenant”, which began with a promise on that afternoon in the earthly paradise, then continued with Noah’s Ark, with Moses in the desert and then continued as the law of Israel in order to do God’s will”.

This law “is sacred”, because it brought the people to God. Therefore “it cannot be touched”. Some said that Jesus “was changing this law”. Instead he was seeking to explain clearly that there was a path that would lead “to the growth”, to “the full maturity of the law”.

The law that sets us free is the law of the Spirit.

However, it is a freedom which in a certain sense is frightening. Because, it can be confused with some other forms of human freedom. Then “the law of the Spirit leads us to the road of continuous discernment in order to do God’s will”. This too is somewhat frightening to us”. However, when we are assailed by this fear we risk of succumbing to two temptations. The first is “to turn back because we are uncertain. But this interrupts the journey”. It is “the temptation of the fear of freedom, of fear of the
Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit frightens us”.

In the1930s a diligent superior of a religious congregation was spending many years collecting all the rules of his congregation: what the religious were permitted to do and what they were not permitted to do. Then, once he had finished his task, he went to an important Benedictine Abbot who was in Rome, to show him his work. The Abbot looked at it and said: Father, with this you have killed the charism of your congregation! He had killed freedom. For the charism gives fruits of freedom and he had blocked the charism. This is not life. That congregation was unable to go on living. What happened? Twenty-five years after that masterpiece, no one looked at it and it ended on a library shelf.

The second temptation is “adolescent progressivism”. But it is not real progress: it is a culture that moves ahead from which we are unable to detach ourselves and from which we take the laws and values we like best, just as teenagers do. In the end we run the risk of slipping, “just as a car skids on an icy road and ends up in the ditch”.

For the Church in our day this is a recurrent temptation. We cannot turn back, and skid off the road. The road on which to continue is this: “The law is full, always in continuity, without being cut: just as the seed culminates in the flower, in the fruit. The road is that of freedom in the Holy Spirit who sets us free in a continuous discernment of God’s will, to make progress on this road without turning back”, and without skidding.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us life, to lead us onwards, to bring the law to full maturity, that law which sets us free.



Pope Francis   13.02.20  Angelus, St Peter's Square       6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A       Matthew 5: 17-37


Pope Francis talks about the Commandments  16.02.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today’s Gospel reading (cf. Mt 5: 17-37) is from the “Sermon on the Mount” and deals with the subject of the fulfilment of the Law: how I must fulfil the Law, how it is to be done. Jesus wants to help His listeners take the right approach to the prescriptions of the Commandments given to Moses, urging them to be open to God Who educates us to true freedom and responsibility through the Law. It is a matter of living it as an instrument of freedom. Let us not forget this: to live the Law as an instrument of freedom, which helps me to be freer, which helps me not to be a slave to passions and sin. Let us think about wars, let us think about the consequences of wars, let us think of that little girl who died of the cold in Syria the day before yesterday. So many calamities, so many. This is the result of passions, and people who wage war do not know how to master their passions. They do not comply with the law. When you give in to temptations and passions, you are not lords and agents of your own life, but you become incapable of managing it with will and responsibility.

Jesus’ discourse is divided into four antitheses, each one expressed with the formula “You have heard that it was said... I say to you”. These antitheses refer to as many situations in daily life: murder, adultery, divorce and oaths. Jesus does not abolish the prescriptions concerning these issues, but He explains their full meaning and indicates the spirit in which they must be observed. He encourages us to move from formal observance of the Law to substantive observance, accepting the Law in our hearts, which is the centre of the intentions, decisions, words and gestures of each one of us. From the heart come good and bad deeds.

By accepting the Law of God in the heart one understands that, when one does not love one's neighbour, to some extent one kills oneself and others, because hatred, rivalry and division kill the fraternal charity that is the basis of interpersonal relationships. And this applies to what I have said about wars and also to gossip, because language kills. By accepting the Law of God in your heart you understand that desires must be guided, because not everything you desire can be had, and it is not good to give in to selfish and possessive feelings. When one accepts the Law of God in one’s heart, one understands that one must abandon a lifestyle of broken promises, as well as move from the prohibition of perjury to the decision not to swear at all, assuming the attitude of full sincerity with everyone.

And Jesus is aware that it is not easy to live the Commandments in such an all-encompassing way. That is why He offers us the help of His love: He came into the world not only to fulfil the Law, but also to give us His Grace, so that we can do God’s will, loving Him and our brothers. We can do everything, everything, with the Grace of God! On the contrary, holiness is none other than guarding this gratuitousness that God has given us, this Grace. It is a matter of trusting and entrusting ourselves to Him, to His Grace, to that gratuitousness that He has given us, and welcoming the hand He constantly extends to us, so that our efforts and our necessary commitment can be sustained by His help, filled with goodness and mercy.

Today Jesus asks us to continue on the path of love that He has indicated to us and which begins from the heart. This is the way to live as Christians. May the Virgin Mary help us to follow the path traced out by her Son, to reach true joy and to spread justice and peace everywhere.




Pope Francis   18.03.20  Holy Mass Casa Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        Deuteronomy 4: 1,5-9      Matthew 5: 17-19
Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent - Lectionary Cycle II
Pope Francis Talks about the Nearness of God 18.03.20

The theme of both readings today is the Law (cf. Dt 4.1.5-9; Mt 5.17-19). The Law that God gives to His people. The Law that the Lord wanted to give to us and that Jesus wanted to bring to the ultimate perfection. But there is one thing that attracts attention: the way God gives the Law. Moses says: "Indeed, what great nation is there that has gods so close to it, as the Lord, our God, is close to us whenever we call to him?" (Dt 4:7). The Lord gives the Law to his people with an attitude of closeness. They are not the prescriptions of a ruler, who may be far away, or a dictator...no. It's the nearness. And we know through revelation that it is a father's closeness, as a father, who accompanies His people by giving them the gift of the Law. The God who is near. "Indeed, what great nation has gods so close to it, as the Lord, our God, is close to us whenever we call Him?"

Our God is the God of nearness, a God who is near, who walks with his people. That image in the desert, in Exodus: the cloud and the pillar of fire to protect the people: He walks with his people. He is not a God who leaves the written prescriptions and says, "Go ahead." He makes the prescriptions, writes them with his own hands on the stone, gives them to Moses, hands them to Moses, but does not leave the prescriptions and leaves: He walks, He is close. "Which nation has such a close God?" It's the nearness. Ours is a God of nearness.

And man's first response, in the first pages of the Bible, is that of not drawing near. Our response is always to distance ourselves, we distance ourselves from God. He gets close and we walk away. Those two first pages. Adam's first attitude with his wife is to hide: they hide from God's nearness, they were ashamed, because they had sinned, and sin leads us to hide, to not want closeness (cf. Gen 3:8-10). And so often, we adopt a theology thinking that He's a judge; and that's why I'm hiding, I'm afraid. The second human way of behaving, to the proposal of this closeness of God is to kill. Killing his brother. "I am not my brother's keeper" (cf. Gen 4:9).

Two attitudes that inhibit any closeness. Man rejects God's closeness, he wants to be in control of relationships, and closeness always brings with it some type of vulnerability. God drawing near makes Himself vulnerable, and the closer He comes, the more vulnerable He seems. When He comes among us, to live with us, He makes himself a man, one of us: he makes himself weak and bears that weakness to the point of death and the most cruel death, the death at the hands of assassins, the death of the greatest sinners. Drawing near humiliates God. He humiliates Himself to be with us, to walk with us, to help us.

The "God who draws near" speaks to us of humility. He's not a "great God," up there. No. He is very near. He's in the house. And we see this in Jesus, God made man, near even to death. With His disciples: He accompanies them, teaches them, corrects them with love... Let us think, for example, of Jesus' closeness to the anguished disciples of Emmaus: they were distressed, they were defeated, and He slowly approaches, to make them understand the message of life, of resurrection (cf. Luke 24,13-32).

Our God is near and asks us to be near to each other, not to distance ourselves from each other. And in this moment of crisis because of the pandemic that we are experiencing, this nearness asks us to manifest it more, to make it more visible. We cannot, perhaps, draw near physically for fear of contagion, but we can reawaken in ourselves an attitude of closeness between us: with prayer, with help, so many ways of drawing near. And why do we have to be near to each other? Because our God is near, He wanted to accompany us in life. He is the God of proximity. For this reason, we are not isolated people: we are neighbours, because this is our inheritance that we have received from the Lord, proximity, that is, the reaction of drawing near.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be near to each other; don't hide from each other; don't wash your hands, as Cain did, of the problem of others, no. Nearness. Proximity. Proximity. "Indeed, what great nation has gods so near to it, as the Lord, our God, is near to us every time we call Him?"