POPE’S MESSAGE | Faith is lived with joyous gratitude, not slavelike duty

Vatican Media

VATICAN CITY — God always loves and generously gives first before asking for fidelity to His commandments — which are the words of a loving father showing people the right way to live, Pope Francis said.

"Christian life is above all the grateful response to a generous father," not a forced, joyless compliance to a series of obligations, the pope said June 27 at his general audience in St. Peter's Square. It was to be the last general audience before a brief suspension for the month of July.

Before his talk, the pope greeted representatives of the Special Olympics and lit a torch from the Special Olympics flame, saying: "I pray that this Olympic flame may be a sign of joy and hope in the Lord, who bestows the gifts of unity and peace on his children."

Later in the square, the pope continued his series of audience talks on the Ten Commandments by reflecting on how God first liberated His people from slavery in Egypt, then revealed the commandments to Moses.

"God never asks without giving first. Never. He saves first, then asks" for fidelity to His commandments, which are the "loving words of a father" to His children so they can journey on the right path through life.

This is "the secret" to the Christian approach, which is Jesus' approach — to know one is loved by a father and to love others in turn, the pope said. Jesus "doesn't start with Himself, but with the father," he added.

Projects or efforts fail when they are rooted in selfishness, not in "gratitude" to the Lord, the pope said.

The foundation of everything a Christian does isn't based on a sense of obligation: "I must do this, this, this ..." he said.

"No. The foundation of this duty is the love of God, the Father, who gives first and then commands," he said; it's a situation based on a relationship and personal experience between father and child.

"To put the law before the relationship does not help the journey of faith. How can a young person want to be Christian if we start with obligations, tasks, consistency and not with liberation?"

"To be Christian is a journey of liberation. The commandments liberate you from your own self-centeredness, and they liberate you because there is God's love to carry you forward."

Christian formation is not about willpower, but about opening one's arms to salvation and letting oneself be loved, he said.

Pope Francis said it is important for people to ask themselves, "How many beautiful things has God done for me?" Recognizing all these gifts "liberates us," he said.

But it can also happen, he said, that people have not had this liberating experience, and they still live their faith from a sense of obligation — a spirituality that is lived "slavelike," not like sons and daughters of God. 

Pope says torture is a mortal sin; Vatican urges help for drug abusers

VATICAN CITY — Calling torture a "mortal sin," Pope Francis called on Christians to help victims of this crime against human rights.

Marking the United Nations' International Day in Support of Victims of Torture June 26, the pope tweeted: "Torture is a mortal sin! Christian communities must commit themselves to helping victims of torture."

The pope has spoken out many times against torture, calling it a "very serious sin." During his visit to concentration camps in Poland in 2016, he said: "Cruelty did not end at Auschwitz, at Birkenau. Today too, people are tortured; many prisoners are tortured at once, to make them speak ... It is terrible! Today there are men and women in overcrowded prisons; they live — I'm sorry — like animals."

The Vatican also marked the U.N. International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26 with a message from Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The cardinal called for outreach and support of all those who have been caught up in the world of illicit drugs, which is run by people "without scruples, who, giving into the temptation of easy money, slow death, cut off hope and destroy so many families."

"Drugs are a wound inflicted on our communities, ensnaring many people in a cycle of suffering and alienation," he wrote in the message.

Solidarity and support are critical, particularly toward those who are fragile and vulnerable, like those who are abusing drugs, which is often a consequence of being excluded in some way, he stated.

Citing a 2015 message from Pope Francis, the cardinal wrote, "Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person's life. ... Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God."

— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service 

No votes yet