In his daily homily Pope Francis reflected on the theme of Christian freedom, observing that it comes from our docility and willingness to accept the “newness” and the “surprises of God.”
“The Word of God is alive and so comes and says what he wants to say: not what I expect it to say, or what I hope it says,” stated the Pope in his Jan. 20 daily Mass, adding that it is a “free” word that is also “a surprise, because our God is the God of surprises.”
Directing his thoughts to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha Guesthouse, Pope Francis began his homily by focusing on the importance of having an attitude of “openness” in order to truly receive the Word of God.
“The Word of God is living and active, it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” noted the pontiff, adding that Christian freedom comes from “docility” to this word, and because of this we should always be prompt in accepting the “newness” of the Gospel.
“The Gospel is newness. Revelation is newness. Our God is a God that always makes things new and asks from us this docility to his newness,” the Pope emphasized.
“Jesus is clear in this, He is very clear: new wine into new wineskins,” affirmed the pontiff, recalling Jesus’ response in the day’s Gospel reading, taken from Mark, to those who question why his disciples are not fasting like the others.
“God brings the wine, but it must be received with this openness to newness,” he continued, highlighting that this openness “is called docility.”
Pope Francis then encouraged those in attendance to ask themselves “am I docile to the Word of God or do I always do what I believe to be the Word of God?”
If we do the latter, he observed, we “end up like a piece of new cloth on an old garment, and the tear gets worse,” again referring to the day’s Gospel reading, adding that to “conform to the Word of God in order to receive it” requires “a whole ascetic attitude.”
“When I want to take electricity from the electrical source, if the appliance that I have does not work, I seek an adaptor,” explained the Pope.
“We should always try to adapt ourselves, adapt ourselves to this newness of the Word of God, to be open to the newness.”
Recalling the conversation between Saul and Samuel in the day’s first reading, taken from the First Letter of Samuel, in which the prophet chastises Saul for disobeying the Lord, the Pope stated that “Saul, precisely the elected of God, God's anointed, had forgotten that God is surprise and newness.”
“He had forgotten,” noted the pontiff, “he was closed in his thoughts, in his schemes, and so he reasoned in a human way.”
Explaining how, during Saul’s time, the loot taken from a victorious battle would often be used as a sacrifice, the Pope highlighted that when the king decided that the animals they had won would be “for the Lord,” he “reasoned with his thoughts, with his heart, closed in his habits.”
“Our God,” stated the pontiff, is not “the God of habits: he is a God of surprises,” adding that Saul “did not obey the Word of God” and was “not docile to the Word of God.”
“Rebellion, not obeying the Word of God, is a sin of divination,” he observed, and “obstinacy, the stubbornness of doing that which you want and not what God wants, is the sin of idolatry.”
These things can drive us think about what really is “Christian freedom,” and “what is Christian obedience,” the Pope reflected, emphasizing that “Christian freedom and Christian obedience are docile to the Word of God.”
“It is having this courage to become new wineskins, for this new wine that comes continuously,” he went on to say, adding that it is the “courage of always discerning: discerning, I mean, not relativizing.”
“Always discern what the Spirit does in my heart, what the Spirit wants in my heart, where the Spirit leads me in my heart. And obeying. Discern and obey.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying that all might receive “the grace of docility to the Word of God, and this Word that is alive and effective, that discerns the feelings and thoughts of the heart."