Holiness does not come from respecting rigid rules, says Pope


VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Redemption is the work of God, not human beings, so be careful and don’t listen to “fundamentalists” who claim that holiness comes through certain laws, Pope Francis said during its weekly general audience.

The belief that holiness comes by observing particular laws “leads us to a rigid religiosity, a rigidity which eliminates that freedom of the Spirit which the redemption of Christ gives us. Beware of this rigidity that they are proposing, ”he declared on September 1 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience room at the Vatican.

The saving grace of God is received by faith in the gospel message of the death and resurrection of Christ, and God invites people to rejoice in the righteousness received by this faith in Christ, he said. said.

The Pope continued his series of interviews on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians by examining the apostle’s explanation of justification by faith and of the graces which flow from the Spirit, not from the works of the law.

However, before beginning his catechesis, the Pope spoke out of the blue to explain the background and purpose of the audience’s weekly addresses, which are usually in-depth reflections on many aspects of the teaching of the Church.

The Pope said the teachings in Saint Paul’s letter were nothing new or “my own thing.”

“What we are studying is what Saint Paul said during a very serious conflict” in Galatia. “These are not things someone made up. No. This is something that happened back then and can be repeated, ”he said, referring to the apostle’s attempts to correct those who were tempted to believe that a person is justified. by works of the law, not by faith in the redemptive action of Christ.

The Pope said: “This is simply a catechesis on the Word of God expressed in Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It is nothing else. Always keep this in mind.

While he did not elaborate on the reason for his unusual opening remarks, it may be linked to negative reactions to his August 11 speech to the general public. Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chairman of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Dialogue with the Holy See, sent a letter to the Vatican asking for clarification because the Pope appeared to suggest that Jewish law was obsolete, according to Reuters, which saw the letter.

In this catechesis on Saint Paul’s explanation that the law given to Moses did not nullify God’s promise to Abraham, the Pope said: “The law does not give life, it does not offer life. fulfillment of the promise because she is not in a position to be able to fulfill it.

Abraham, who preceded Moses by over 400 years, shows that faith in God brings righteousness, he said, which Saint Paul used to illustrate that the Gentile Galatians heard with faith and experienced justification as Abraham and, therefore, they did not have to follow the Mosaic law, like male circumcision, as some new preachers of the time claimed.

A Vatican source confirmed to the Catholic News Service on September 1 that a response to the rabbi’s letter was in the works.

The pope’s speech on September 1 continued in the same line of the danger of “these new preachers” who had convinced some Galatians “that they had to go back and adopt the standards, the precepts which were observed and led to the perfection before the coming of Christ.

Saint Paul tries to convince these Christians that they risked losing “the precious treasure, the beauty, of the newness of Christ” if they allowed themselves “to be enchanted by the voice of the sirens who want to lead them to a religiosity founded solely on scrupulous respect for precepts ”, declared the Pope.

They knew that their coming to faith “was the initiative of God, not of men. The Holy Spirit had been the protagonist of their experience; to put it on the back burner now to give primacy to their own works, that is to say to fulfill the precepts of the law, would have been foolish, ”he said.

Christians today also need to think about how they live their faith, he said. “Does the love of Christ crucified and risen remain at the center of our daily life as a source of salvation, or do we content ourselves with a few religious formalities to appease our consciences?

What happened in Galatia can still happen today in a similar fashion, the Pope said, warning people not to listen to “these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that make us back down in our spiritual life; try to advance in the paschal vocation of Jesus.

Even when people are tempted to turn away from God with distractions and their sins, “God always continues to bestow his gifts” and he “does not forsake us, but abides with us in his merciful love”.

“Let us ask for the wisdom to always be aware of this reality and to reject the fundamentalists who propose a life of artificial asceticism”, that is to say the practice of strict self-discipline “which is far from the resurrection of Christ “.

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