Pope Francis said Wednesday that true freedom is found by opening one’s heart to the grace of Christ.
“The truest freedom, that from slavery to sin, flows from the Cross of Christ. We are free from slavery to sin by the Cross of Christ,” Pope Francis said Oct. 6.
“Right there, where Jesus allowed himself to be nailed, making himself a slave, God placed the source of the liberation of the human person.”
Speaking to pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall for his general audience, Pope Francis pointed to the example of St. Paul, who he said experienced the mystery of God’s love when he wrote “I have been crucified with Christ” in his Epistle to the Galatians.
“In that act of supreme union with the Lord, he knew he had received the greatest gift of his life: freedom. On the Cross, in fact, he had nailed ‘his flesh with its passions and desires.’ We understand how much faith filled the Apostle, how great was his intimacy with Jesus,” the pope said.
“The Apostle’s testimony encourages us to progress in this life of freedom. The Christian is free, should be free, and is called not to return to being a slave of precepts and strange things,” he said.
Pope Francis noted that remaining free from sin can be a struggle, but he stressed that it is possible to make progress during one’s lifetime.
“How many people there are who have never studied, who do not even know how to read and write, but who have understood Christ’s message well, who have this freedom that makes them free. It is Christ’s wisdom that has entered them through the Holy Spirit in baptism,” Pope Francis said.
“How many people do we find who live the life of Christ better than great theologians, for example, offering a tremendous witness of the freedom of the Gospel?”
St. Paul invited the Galatians with his letter to “to remain firm in the freedom they had received with baptism, without allowing themselves to be put once again under the ‘yoke of slavery,’” he said.
The pope explained that freedom makes one free to the extent to which it transforms one’s life and directs it toward the good.
“So as to be truly free, we not only need to know ourselves on the psychological level, but above all to practice truth in ourselves on a more profound level -- and there, in our heart, open ourselves to the grace of Christ,” he said.
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“The journey of truth and freedom is an arduous one that lasts a lifetime … And it is a journey on which the Love that comes from the Cross guides and sustains us: the Love that reveals truth to us and grants us freedom. This is the way to happiness,” Pope Francis said.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.