Vatican

"Christian freedom rests on two pillars: the grace of God and truth."

In Wednesday's catechesis, Pope Francis focused his reflection on Christian freedom, assuring that "the call is above all to remain in Jesus, the source of the truth that sets us free."

David Fernández Alonso-October 6, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
Christian liberty

Pope Francis focused this Wednesday's catechesis on Christian freedom: "In the Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul wrote immortal words on Christian freedom. Today we dwell on this theme".

"Freedom," Francis began, "is a treasure that is truly appreciated only when it is lost. For many of us, accustomed to living in freedom, it often appears more as an acquired right than as a gift and an inheritance to guard. How many misunderstandings surrounding the theme of freedom, and how many different visions have clashed over the centuries!"

"In the case of the Galatians, the apostle could not bear that these Christians, after having known and accepted the truth of Christ, should allow themselves to be attracted by deceitful proposals, passing from freedom to slavery: from the liberating presence of Jesus to the slavery of sin, legalism, etc. Therefore, he invites Christians to remain firm in the freedom they have received through baptism, without allowing themselves to be put back under "the yoke of slavery" (Gal 5,1). Paul is rightly zealous for freedom. He is aware that some "false brethren" have infiltrated the community to "exhale - so he writes - the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, in order to reduce us to slavery" (Gal 2,4), and cannot tolerate it. A preaching that would have to exclude freedom in Christ would never be evangelical. No one can ever be forced in the name of Jesus, no one can ever be made a slave in the name of Jesus who sets us free".

But the Pope assures us that St. Paul's teaching on freedom is above all positive. "The apostle proposes the teaching of Jesus, which we also find in the Gospel of John: 'If you remain in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' (8:31-32)." The call, therefore, is above all to remain in Jesus, the source of the truth that sets us free. Christian freedom is founded on two fundamental pillars: first, the grace of the Lord Jesus; second, the truth that Christ reveals to us and that is Himself.

"First of all," he continues, "it is the Lord's gift. The freedom that the Galatians have received - and we like them - is the fruit of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The apostle concentrates all his preaching on Christ, who has freed him from the bonds of his past life: from him alone spring the fruits of the new life according to the Spirit. In fact, the truest freedom, freedom from the slavery of sin, sprang from the Cross of Christ. Precisely where Jesus allowed himself to be nailed, God placed the source of man's radical liberation".

"This never ceases to amaze us," says the Pope: "that the place where we are stripped of all freedom, that is, death, can become the source of freedom. But this is the mystery of God's love! Jesus himself had announced it when he said: "This is why the Father loves me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me; I give it willingly. I have the power to give it and the power to take it again" (Jn 10,17-18). Jesus accomplishes his full freedom by giving himself up to death; he knows that only in this way can he obtain life for all. Paul had experienced this mystery of love firsthand. This is why he says to the Galatians, with an extremely daring expression: "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal 2,19)".

"In this act of supreme union with the Lord," the Holy Father affirms, "he knows that he has received the greatest gift of his life: freedom. On the Cross, in fact, he nailed "the flesh with its passions and its desires" (5:24). We understand how much faith animated the Apostle, how great was his intimacy with Jesus, and while, on the one hand, we feel that we lack this, on the other hand, the Apostle's witness encourages us".

Francis continues with the second pillar of freedom: truth. "Here too, it is necessary to remember that the truth of the faith is not an abstract theory, but the reality of the living Christ, which directly touches the daily and general meaning of personal life. Freedom makes free to the extent that it transforms a person's life and directs it towards the good. To be truly free, we need not only to know ourselves, at the psychological level, but above all to know the truth in ourselves, at a deeper level".

He concludes by affirming that "there, in the heart, we must open ourselves to the grace of Christ. The truth must unsettle us, it must continually raise questions for us, so that we can always go deeper into the depths of who we really are. In this way we discover that the path of truth and freedom is a tiring path that lasts a lifetime. A path on which we are guided and sustained by the Love that comes from the Cross: the Love that reveals truth to us and gives us freedom. And this is the way of happiness".

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