On Sunday, Pope Francis praised his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, calling him an example of courage in following the will of God. The Holy Father made his remarks during his weekly Angelus address to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Reflecting on the Gospel, which spoke of Christ’s journey towards his Passion and death in Jerusalem, the Pope said that Jesus followed through with his “steadfast decision” makes clear the conditions to follow him. The Holy Father also noted Christ’s humility in sending messengers to precede him so as not impose on anyone to receive him and his disciples.
“Jesus never imposes. Jesus is humble. Jesus extends invitations: If you want, come. The humility of Jesus is like this: He always invites us. He does not impose,” the Pope said.
“All this makes us think. It tells us, for example, the importance, even for Jesus, of conscience: listening in his heart to the Father’s voice, and following it. Jesus, in his earthly life, was not, so to speak, remote-controlled: He was the Word made flesh, the Son of God made man, and at one point he made a firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time – a decision taken in His conscience, but not on His own: with the Father, in full union with Him!”
Pope Francis went on to say that Jesus’ obedience to God’s will was the result of a “profound intimate attunement” with the Father. Christ found his strength upon making a decision in freedom and in doing so, gave Christian’s the example to be “free as he is.”
“Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will: remote-controlled Christians, incapable of creativity, who seek ever to connect with the will of another, and are not free,” the Holy Father said.
“Jesus wants us free, and this freedom where is it found? It is to be found in the inner dialogue with God in conscience. If a Christian does not know how to talk with God, does not know how to listen to God, in his own conscience, then he is not free he is not free.”
While exhorting the faithful to follow their conscience, the Pope warned not to confuse following our conscience with following our own interests. The conscience, he said, “is the interior space in which we can listen to and heard the truth, the good, the voice of God.”
Pope Benedict XVI, he continued, was a “great example” of this. “When the Lord had made it clear, in prayer, what was the step he had to take, he followed, with a great sense of discernment and courage, his conscience, that is, the will of God that spoke to his heart and this example of our father does much good to all of us, as an example to follow,” Pope Francis said.
The Holy Father concluded his weekly Angelus address invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary who, with her simplicity, listened and meditated deeply on the will of God.”May Mary help us to become more and more men and women of conscience, free in our conscience, because it is in conscience that the dialogue with God is given men and women able to hear the voice of God and follow it with decision,” the Pope said.