“It is the sin of so many Christians who cling to what has always been done and who do not allow others to change. And they end up with half a life, [a life that is] patched, mended, meaningless.”
During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis stressed that those who have this mentality of–‘but this is how it’s always been done’–deprive themselves of having meaningful lives and close themselves to the Holy Spirit’s surprises, reported Vatican Radio.
The sin, he said, “is a closed heart,” that “does not hear the voice of the Lord, that is not open to the newness of the Lord, to the Spirit that always surprises us.”
“It’s always been done this way’ is a closed heart, and Jesus tells us, ‘I will send you the Holy Spirit and He will lead you into the fullness of truth.”
The Pontiff drew inspiration from today’s reading in which Saul was rejected by God as King of Israel because he disobeyed, preferring to listen to the people rather than the will of God. After winning a battle, the people wanted to offer a sacrifice of the best animals to God, because, he said, “it’s always been done that way.” But God, this time, did not want that.
Also in the Gospel, the Pope added, Jesus teaches us the same thing. When the doctors of the law criticized Him because His disciples did not fast “as had always been done,” Jesus responded with examples from daily life which illustrated that to continue certain habits doesn’t make sense.
Francis clarified that this is not Jesus changing the law, and that man must have an open heart because the law is at the service of man, who is at the service of God.
If you have a heart closed to the newness of the Spirit, you will never reach the full truth, and this was Saul’s sin, the Pope stressed.
Being Stubborn = Sin of Idolizing Self
The Prophet Samuel, the Pope highlighted, calls this rebellion of a closed heart, “the sin of divination,” and obstinacy, “the sin of idolatry.”
“Christians who obstinately maintain ‘it’s always been done this way,’ this is the path, this is the street—they sin: the sin of divination,” he said.
“It’s as if they went about by guessing: ‘What has been said and what doesn’t change is what’s important; what I hear—from myself and my closed heart—more than the Word of the Lord.’ Obstinacy is also the sin of idolatry: the Christian who is obstinate sins! The sin of idolatry.”
‘And what is the way, Father?’ Open the heart to the Holy Spirit, discern what is the will of God.”
Habits Must Be Renewed
Given this, an “open heart” is what is needed, “a heart that will not stubbornly remain in the sin of idolatry of oneself,” imagining that my own opinion is more important than the surprise of the Holy Spirit.
“This is the message the Church gives us today. This is what Jesus says so forcefully: ‘New wine in new wineskins.’ Habits must be renewed in the newness of the Spirit, in the surprises of God.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying that the Lord grant us the grace of an open heart, “of a heart open to the voice of the Spirit, which knows how to discern what should not change, because it is fundamental, from what should change in order to be able to receive the newness of the Spirit.”