Pope Francis: Christian Freedom Means to Be Docile to the Word of God

Reflects on the ‘Surprises’ That Come From God During Morning Mass

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In order to obtain true Christian freedom, one must be docile to discern and obey the Word of God. This was central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

“The Word of God is living and efficacious, it discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart,” the Holy Father began. This Word, however, comes not to tell us what we want to hear, but rather it comes with a newness because God is a “God of surprises.”

“The Gospel is new. The Revelation is new. Our God is a God who always does new things and asks from us this docility to his newness,” he said.

The Pope spoke in regards to today’s Gospel, in which Jesus responds to complaints that his disciples do not fast as the disciples of John and the Pharisees. “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” was Jesus’ response. The Holy Father observed that the surprising response from Christ, in which He says that “new wine is poured into fresh wineskins”, is very clear.

“God brings the wine, but it must be received with openness to this newness. And this is called docility. We may ask ourselves: am I docile to the Word of God or do I always do what I believe to be the Word of God? Or do I pass the Word of God through an alembic (i.e. distillery) and in the end it is another thing in respect to what God wants to do?”

Drawing from the first reading, in which King Saul disobeys God’s command, he said it is a call for us to adapt to the newness of the Word of God.

“Saul, the chosen one of God, anointed by God, had forgotten that God is one of surprises and newness. He had forgotten, he was closed in his thoughts, in his schemes, and so he reasoned humanly,” the Pope said.

In the reading, rather than destroying all that belonged to the Amalekites, Saul chose to keep the sheep and oxen as a sacrifice to God. The prophet Samuel then reproaches Saul for, what Pope Francis called, “taking over the Word of God.”

“The rebellion, to not obey the Word of God, is a sin of divination,” he said. “Stubbornness, the non-docility to do what you want and not what God wants, is a sin of idolatry.” The reading, he continued, brings us to contemplate on what exactly is Christian freedom and Christian obedience.

“Christian freedom and Christian obedience are the docility to the Word of God, and to have the courage to become new wineskins, for this new wine that continuously comes,” he said. 

“This courage to discern always: to discern, I say, not relativize. To always discern what the Spirit is doing in my heart, what the Spirit wants in my heart, where the Spirit is taking me in my heart. And obey. Discern and obey.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask for the grace to be docile to the Word of God, a Word that “discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart.” (J.A.E.)

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