In his catechesis at the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said that we must ask ourselves whether we are still living “under the Law” or whether we understand that, having become children of God, we are called to live in the love.
Pope Francis was explaining Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians in a general audience, focusing on Saint Paul’s understanding of the role of the law for Christians.
Saint Paul, he says, “taught us that the ‘children of the promise’, that is to say all of us, justified by Jesus Christ, are no longer bound by the Law, but are called to life. demanding of the freedom of the Gospel.
He explained that for Saint Paul, acceptance of the faith is the turning point both in the history of salvation as a whole and in our personal histories. At the heart of faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus, “which Paul preached to inspire faith in the Son of God, the source of salvation.”
So, he said, for Christians there is a period “before becoming believers” and “after receiving the faith”; and therefore there is “a before and an after with regard to the Law itself.”
In the period preceding the reception of faith, being “under the Law” has a negative meaning, “as if one were being watched and locked up, a kind of preventive guard”. This period, he said, “is perpetuated as long as one lives in sin.”
Law as teacher and tutor
The Law, Pope Francis said, makes us aware of what it means to break the law and also makes people aware of their own sin. In a sense, it ends up “stimulating transgression”.
But he went on to explain, using the image of the Law of Saint Paul as a teacher, that while the Law had a “restrictive” function, it also served to protect and support the people of Israel, “it had educated them, disciplined them, and supported them in their weakness.
Thus, said the Pope, the Law also had a positive function, but limited in time: when children become adults, they no longer need a tutor. Likewise, “once arrived at the faith, the Law exhausts its propaedeutic value and must give way to another authority”.
Considering the role of law
However, he said, the law still exists and is still important. Pope Francis said the role of the law “deserves careful consideration so that we do not give in to misunderstandings and make mistakes.”
So, he said, “it is good that we ask ourselves whether we are still living in the time when we need the Fa, or whether, on the contrary, we are fully aware of having received the grace to become children of the Fa. God to live in love.
That’s a good question, he said, and added a second, “Do I despise the Commandments?” He also replied, “No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.