Becoming a "witness to obedience" is "a grace of the Holy Spirit," and we must ask for it. "It is a grace we must seek, 'Father, Lord Jesus, send me your Spirit so that I may become a witness of obedience, that is, a Christian.'
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The life of a Christian is not a social status, it is not a way of living a spirituality that makes me good, which makes me a little better." That is not enough. The life of a Christian is witness in obedience to God and only the Holy Spirit can gift us this grace, said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. Recalling the reading of the day Pope Francis quoted Peter’s words before the Sanhedrin when he said “You must obey God rather than men."
Peter and the Apostles had been freed from prison by an Angel, and forbidden to teach in Jesus’s name. And yet the high priest said “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us”. In order to better understand this event the Pope also referred to the Book of Acts regarding the early months of the Church which describes a growing Christian community and many miracles. There was the faith of the people, he said, but there were also “wily” people trying to take advantage of the situation and “wanting to make a career for themselves” like Hananiah and Sapphira.
The same kind of dynamics take place today, the Pope noted, and there are those who despise “God’s faithful people.” Turning back to the reading of today, the Pope said that Peter, who out of fear had betrayed Jesus on Holy Thursday, this time courageously answered the high priest saying that “we must obey God rather than men." This answer, he said, makes it clear that "a Christian is a witness of obedience" as Jesus was, when in the garden of Gethsemane, he addressed these words to the Father: “not my will but yours be done”. "The Christian is a witness of obedience; if we are not on this path and growing in our witness we are not Christians. We must at least walk this way” he said.
The Pope pointed out that “Jesus is not the testimonial of an idea, of a philosophy, of a company, of a bank or of power: he is a testimonial of obedience”. However, Francis explained, to become a “witness of obedience” we need the "grace of the Holy Spirit". "Only the Spirit can make us witnesses of obedience. It’s not enough to listen to spiritual guides or to read books…. all that is fine but only the Spirit can change our heart and make us witnesses of obedience” he said.
The Pope said it is a grace we must ask for: “Father, Lord Jesus, send me your Spirit so that I may become a witness of obedience, that is, a Christian.” Francis also said that to be witnesses of obedience implies consequences, as narrated by the First reading; in fact, after Peter's response, the high priests wanted to put him to death: "Persecutions were the consequences of this witness of obedience. When Jesus lists the Beatitudes he ends with the words ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you’” he said. And pointing out that the cross cannot be taken away from the life of a Christian, the Pope said “being a Christian has nothing to do with social status, it is not a lifestyle that makes one feel good; being a Christian means being a witness of obedience and the life of a Christian is full of insults and persecutions”.
Pope Francis concluded his homily saying that in order to be witnesses of obedience like Jesus, it is necessary to pray, to recognize that we are sinners with much “worldliness” in our hearts and to ask God for the grace of becoming witnesses of obedience" and to not be afraid when we are insulted and persecuted "because as the Lord said: the Spirit will tell us what to answer."
"The Ten Commandments are the basis, the foundation but we must follow" all the things Jesus taught us, these commandments of daily life," which represent "a Christian way of living." We Christians "must give joy to people", love, without any interest. "Our Christian mission is to give joy to people."
Christianity "is not an ideology, it is not a philosophical system, but a journey of faith that starts from an event, witnessed by the first disciples": "Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose. And appeared to Peter and the Twelve" and then "to five hundred brothers ".
Francis met in the small room in the Paul VI Hall with participants in a colloquium organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation.
Today's meeting raises hope for regional stability and a stop to the slaughter of Christians, condemned to oblivion at the hands of al Qaeda and Isis, who are also Iran’s enemies. The dialogue between cultures, religions and peoples that began under Khatami, frozen under Ahmadinejad, can now start again. Moderate Islam is also useful to Iranian youth, nauseated by the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards. The Catechism and Catholic theologians are available in Persian translations.