Pope Francis Santa Marta Mass - Being a good Christian means being Docile to the Word of God 20.01.20
In the first Reading, God rejected Saul as king, a prophecy that was confided to Samuel.
The sin of Saul was his lack of docility to the Word of God, imagining that his own interpretation of God's command was more correct. This is the substance of the sin against docility: the Lord had commanded him not to take anything from the people who had been conquered, but this did not happen.
When Samuel goes to scold him on behalf of God, he tried to explain: “But look, there were cattle, there were so many good, fat animals, and with these I offered a sacrifice to the Lord”. He had not put anything in his own pocket, although others had. On the contrary, with this attitude of interpreting the Word of God as it seemed right to him, he allowed the others to put something of the plunder in their own pockets. The stages of corruption: it begins with a little disobedience, a lack of docility, and it keeps going further, further, further.
After “exterminating” the Amalekites the people took from the plunder small and large beasts, the first fruits of what was vowed to extermination, to sacrifice to the Lord. But Samuel pointed out that the Lord prefers obedience to the voice of God to holocausts and sacrifices; and he clarified the hierarchy of values: It is more important to have a docile heart, and to obey, than to offer sacrifices, to fast, to do penance. The sin of lacking docility lies precisely in that preference for what I think and not what the Lord commands of me and perhaps I don’t understand. When you rebel against the will of the Lord you are not docile; it’s like a sin of fortune-telling. It’s as if, although you say you believe in God, you were to go to a fortune-teller to have your palm read ‘just in case’. Not obeying the Lord, the lack of docility, is like fortune-telling.
When you insist on doing things your own way in the face of the Lord’s will, you are an idolater, because you prefer what you think, that idol, to the will of the Lord. And for Saul, this disobedience cost him the kingdom: “Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you as king”. This should make us think a little bit about our own docility. We often prefer our own interpretation of the Gospel or the Word of the Lord. For example, when we fall into clever but unsound reasoning, into clever but unsound reasoning about moral cases… This is not the will of the Lord. The will of the Lord is clear; He makes it known with the commandments in the Bible, and makes you see it with the Holy Spirit within your heart. But when I am obstinate, and turn the Word of the Lord into an ideology, I am an idolater, I am not docile. Docility, obedience.
In todays Gospel from St Mark the disciples were criticised because they did not fast. Jesus uses an analogy: no one sews new cloth on an old cloak, because it would risk making the tear worse; and no one puts new wine in old wineskins, because the skins would burst, and both the wine and the wineskins would be lost. “Rather”, the Lord said, “new wine is poured into fresh wineskins”.
The newness of the Word of the Lord – because the Word of the Lord is always new, it always carries us onward – always wins, it is better than everything. It overcomes idolatry, it overcomes pride, and it overcomes this attitude of being too sure of ourselves, not through commitment to the Word of the Lord, but to the ideologies that I have built around the Word of the Lord. There is a very beautiful expression of Jesus that explains all this and that comes from God, taken from the Old Testament: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice”.
Being a good Christian means being docile to the Word of the Lord, listening to what the Lord says about justice, charity, forgiveness, and mercy; and not being inconsistent in life, using an ideology to be able to go forward. It’s true that the Word of the Lord sometimes gets us in trouble, but the devil does the same thing, deceptively. So to be a Christian is to be free, through trust in God.