Pope Francis: Divine Law Is ‘Instrument of Freedom’ to Help Us Love God and Neighbor
The Holy Father explained Feb. 16 how Jesus came to ‘give us his grace, so that we can do the will of God, loving him and our brothers.’
VATICAN CITY— God gives the grace both to follow his law exteriorly and to accept it in one’s heart, which is what gives true freedom from passion and sin, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.
“Let’s not forget this: Living the Law is an instrument of freedom, which helps me to be freer, which helps me not to be a slave to passions and sin,” the pope said Feb. 16.
In his catechesis before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between “formal compliance” and “substantive compliance” with the law, which is to accept the law also in “the center of the intentions, decisions, words and gestures of each of us.”
“Good and bad deeds,” he said, “start from the heart.”
The Pope explained that “by accepting the Law of God in your heart, you understand that when you do not love your neighbor, you kill yourself and others to some extent, because hatred, rivalry and division kill the fraternal charity that underlies interpersonal relationships.” This is also true of gossip, he added.
Jesus knows it is not always easy to live the Ten Commandments in this way. “For this reason he offers us the help of his love,” Francis assured.
“He came into the world not only to fulfill the Law,” the Pope continued, “but also to give us his grace, so that we can do the will of God, loving him and our brothers.”
“Everything, everything we can do with the grace of God!”
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, encourages his followers to have a correct understanding of the Law, Francis explained.
“Jesus wants to help his listeners to have a correct approach to the rules of the commandments given to Moses, urging us to be available to God, who educates us to true freedom and responsibility through the Law,” he said.
“It is about living [the Law] as an instrument of freedom.”
Pope Francis said: “It is a matter of trusting and entrusting ourselves to him, to his grace, to that gratuitousness that he has given us and to welcome the hand that he constantly extends to us, so that our efforts and our necessary commitment can be supported by his help, full of goodness and of mercy.”
According to the Pope, war is also an example of succumbing to one’s passions.
He recalled the death of an 18-month-old girl, who died of cold in a refugee camp in Afrin, Syria, Feb. 14.
War has many consequences. “This is the result of passions,” he said. “People who make war cannot control their passions.”
“Today, Jesus asks us to progress on the path of love that he has shown us and which starts from the heart,” he said.
“This is the way forward to live as a Christian. May the Virgin Mary help us to follow the path traced by her Son, to reach true joy and spread justice and peace everywhere.”