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Pope Francis: Christian consolation and the law of the truly free

By editor - 11 June, 2013

The Beatitudes are ‘new commandments’, but they are not just a simple do gooders list. They cannot be understood with the mind, only with the heart, so if our hearts are closed to God we will never know true freedom. Christian consolation is the presence of God in our hearts which teaches us to understand the Beatitudes as the law of the truly free. This was the main focus of Pope Francis’ homily Monday morning at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta residence.

Reflecting on the daily readings the Pope began by noting that, at the beginning of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul uses the word consolation several times. The Apostle to the Gentiles, he added, “speaks to Christians who are young in the faith,” people who “have recently begun to follow the path of Jesus”, he insists on this, even if “they were not all persecuted.” They were normal people, “but they had found Jesus.” The Pope said this “was such a life-changing experience that a special strength from God was needed” and this strength is consolation. Consolation, he said again, “is the presence of God in our hearts.” But, Pope Francis warned, in order for the Lord “to be present in our hearts, we must open the door”. His presence requires our “conversion”:

“This is salvation: to live in the consolation of the Holy Spirit, not the consolation of the spirit of this world. No, that is not salvation, that is sin. Salvation is moving forward and opening our hearts so they can receive the Holy Spirit’s consolation, which is salvation. This is non-negotiable, you can’t take a bit from here and a bit from there? We cannot pick and mix, no? A bit of the Holy Spirit, a bit of the spirit of this world … No! It’s one thing or the other. “

Pope Francis continued, the Lord clearly states: “You cannot serve two masters: or you serve teh Lord or you serve the spirit of this world.” You cannot ‘mix them up’. It is precisely when we are open to the Spirit of the Lord, that we are able to understand the “new law that the Lord brings us”: the Beatitudes, of which the Gospel speaks today. The Pope added that we can only understand these Beatitudes ” if we have an open heart, from the consolation of the Holy Spirit”. They “cannot be understood with human intelligence alone”:

“They are the new commandments. But if we do not have a heart open to the Holy Spirit, they will seem silly. ‘Just look, being poor, being meek, being merciful will hardly lead us to success’. If we do not have an open heart and if we have not experienced the consolation of the Holy Spirit, which is salvation, we cannot understand this. This is the law for those who have been saved and have opened their hearts to salvation. This is the law of the free, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit. “

Pope Francis continued, “we can regulate ourlife, according to a list of commands or procedures,” but it is a “merely human” list. In the end this “does not lead us to salvation”. The Pope recalled that many were interested in “examining”, “this new doctrine and then arguing with Jesus.” And this was because they “their hearts were closed in on their own concerns”, “concerns that God wanted to change.” Pope Francis asked; Why do people “have their hearts closed to salvation?”. The Pope said it is because “we are afraid of salvation. We need it, but we are afraid” because when the Lord comes “to save us we have to give everything. He is in charge! And we are afraid of this” because “we want control of ourselves”. He added that in order to understand “these new commandments,” we need the freedom that “is born of the Holy Spirit, who saves us, who comforts us” and is “the giver of life”:

“Today we can now ask the Lord for the grace to follow Him, but with this freedom. Because if we want to follow him with our human freedom alone, in the end we become hypocrites like the Pharisees and Sadducees, those who quarreled with him. This is hypocrisy: not allowing the Spirit to change our hearts with His salvation. The freedom of the Spirit, which the Spirit gives us, is also a kind of slavery, of being ‘enslaved’ to the Lord which makes us free, it is another freedom. Instead, our freedom is only slavery, but not to the Lord, but to the spirit of the world. Let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to the consolation of the Holy Spirit, so that this consolation, which is salvation, allows us to understand these commandments. So be it! ”

Mass was concelebrated by the President and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishops Josef Clemens and Indian Archbishop George Valiamattam, of Tellicherry. It was attended by a group of priests and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

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