Christians could be seen as slaves, but not of duty, but love.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis made this clarification to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on the theme of Christian freedom.
In his homily, the Pontiff stressed that those following Christ could be considered ‘slaves,’ but not of duty, but of love, and also encouraged faithful to not hide in the “rigidity” of the Commandments.
Drawing inspiration from the Responsorial Psalm, 103 (104), about a “song of praise” to God for His wonders, the Pope stressed that the Father works to make this wonder of creation and with His Son to accomplish this wonder of re-creation. In addition, the Holy Father recalled an episode in which a child asked him what God was doing before He created the world: “He was loving,” was the response.
“Why then did God create the world?” Francis asked, responding, “Simply to share His fullness. To have someone to whom [to give] and with whom to share His fullness.”
In the re-creation, God, Francis stressed, sends His Son to “set things right.”
“When Jesus says: ‘The Father is always at work: I, too, am always at work,’ the teachers of the law were scandalized and wanted to kill him for this. Why? Because they could not receive the things of God as a gift! Only as Justice: ‘These are the Commandments: but they are few, let’s make more.”
Francis lamented that instead of opening their hearts to the gift, they hid, having sought refuge in the rigidity of the Commandments, which, he noted, had multiplied up to 500 or more.
“They did not know how to receive the gift – and the gift is only received with freedom – and these rigid characters were afraid of the freedom that God gives us: they were afraid of love.”
Slaves of love, not duty
That is why today, he said, we have praised the Father: ‘You are great, O Lord! I love you so much, for you have given this gift. You saved me, you created me.’
This, he stressed, is the prayer of praise and of joy in our Christian lives, rather than “the closed, sad prayer of the person who never knew how to receive a gift because he is afraid of freedom that always carries with it a gift.”
“Such a one knows only how to do duty, but closed duty. Slaves of duty, but not love: when you become a slave of love, you are free! It is a beautiful bondage that, but such men did not understand that.”
The Pope encouraged faithful to ask how they can receive the gift of redemption and forgiveness of God.
“How do I receive the redemption, the forgiveness that God has given me, the making of me a son with His Son? Lovingly, tenderly, with freedom? Or do I hide in the rigidity of the closed Commandments, that are more and more “safe” – with emphasis on the scare-quotes – but that do not give joy, because they do not make you free.”
Each of us, he stressed, ought to reflect on these questions, and on how we experience these two wonders: the wonder of creation and “even greater wonder” of re-creation.