Pope Francis: Use Well-Formed Intelligence to Understand Signs of the Times
Our conscience is a great gift from God, he said, but not a weak conscience, formed by the world.
VATICAN CITY — During a daily Mass last week, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of man’s intellect in understanding the Lord and cautioned those present against “restricted” thought which keeps us focused on ourselves.
“What path does the Lord want? Always with the spirit of intelligence with which to understand the signs of the times, it is beautiful to ask the Lord for this grace,” the Pope said in his Nov. 29 daily homily.
Pope Francis directed his reflections to those present in the St. Martha guest house of the Vatican, where he resides.
He began by recalling how, in the Gospels, the Lord taught his disciples to pay attention to the signs of the times, which the Pharisees failed to understand, emphasizing how one must think not only with the head, but also with the heart and the spirit in order to fully comprehend “way of God in history.”
“In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him,” the Pope explained, adding that at Emmaus Jesus says, “‘How foolish and slow of heart.’”
“He who does not understand the things of God is such a person,” noted the Holy Father, emphasizing how “the Lord wants us to understand what happens, what happens in my heart, what happens in my life, what happens in the world, in history.”
“What is the meaning of what is happening now? These are the signs of the times!”
“On the other hand,” he continued, “the spirit of the world gives us other propositions, because the spirit of the world does not want a community: It wants a mob, thoughtless, without freedom.”
Explaining that, while the spirit of the world tries to lead us down a “restricted path,” the apostle Paul warns that this spirit “treats us as though we lack the ability to think for ourselves; it treats us like people who are not free.”
“Restricted thought, equal thought, weak thought, a thought so widespread. The spirit of the world does not want us to ask ourselves before God: ‘But why, why this other, why did this happen?’”
Or, the Pope observed, this worldly spirit “offers a prêt-à-porter (‘ready to wear’) way of thinking, according to personal taste: ‘I think as I like!’”
While there are many who say that this attitude is okay, the Holy Father noted, the spirit of the world does not want “what Jesus asks of us: free thought, the thought of a man and a women who are part of the people of God, and salvation is exactly this!”
Pope Francis then encouraged the Mass attendees to think of the prophets who proclaimed that “You were not my people, now I say my people,” stating that “so says the Lord.”
“And this is salvation: to make us people, God’s people, to have freedom.”
Reflecting on how Jesus asks us to “think freely … in order to understand what happens,” the Pope stressed that “we are not alone,” and “we need the Lord’s help” in order to “understand the signs of the times.”
In order to do this, the Pope went on to say, the Holy Spirit “gives us this present, a gift: the intelligence to understand.”
Emphasizing how the Lord always wants us to walk along the path of intelligence, Pope Francis highlighted how “it is beautiful to ask the Lord for this grace, who sends us this spirit of intelligence, in order that we avoid weak thought, we do not have a restricted thought, and we do not have a thought according to personal preference.”
We must only have “a thought according to God,” he stated, adding that, “with this thought, which is a thought of the mind, of heart and of soul; with this thought, which is the gift of the Spirit, [we] look for the meaning of things and to understand the signs of the time well.”
Bringing his homily to an end, the Pope said that we must ask the Lord for the grace to have “the ability which gives us the spirit” to “understand the signs of the time.”