(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday reflected on the fact that being Christian is not a social status.Speaking during the homily at the Mass in the Casa Santa Marta the Pope said Christians must be witnesses of obedience to God, like Jesus was.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Recalling the reading of the day Pope Francis quoted Peter’s words before the Sanhedrin when he said “You must obey God rather than men."
Peter and the Apostles had been freed from prison by an Angel, and forbidden to teach in Jesus’s name
And yet the high priest said “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us”.
In order to better understand this event the Pope also referred to the Book of Acts regarding the early months of the Church which describes a growing Christian community and many miracles.
There was the faith of the people, he said, but there were also “wily” people trying to take advantage of the situation and “wanting to make a career for themselves” like Hananiah and Sapphira.
The same kind of dynamics take place today, the Pope noted, and there are those who despise “God’s faithful people.”
Turning back to the reading of today, the Pope said that Peter, who out of fear had betrayed Jesus on Holy Thursday, this time courageously answered the high priest saying that “we must obey God rather than men."
This answer, he said, makes it clear that "a Christian is a witness of obedience" as Jesus was, when in the garden of Gethsemane, he addressed these words to the Father: “not my will but yours be done”.
"The Christian is a witness of obedience; if we are not on this path and growing in our witness we are not Christians. We must at least walk this way” he said.
The Pope pointed out that “Jesus is not the testimonial of an idea, of a philosophy, of a company, of a bank or of power: he is a testimonial of obedience”.
However, Francis explained, to become a “witness of obedience” we need the "grace of the Holy Spirit".
"Only the Spirit can make us witnesses of obedience. It’s not enough to listen to spiritual guides or to read books…. all that is fine but only the Spirit can change our heart and make us witnesses of obedience” he said.
The Pope said it is a grace we must ask for: “Father, Lord Jesus, send me your Spirit so that I may become a witness of obedience, that is, a Christian.”
Francis also said that to be witnesses of obedience implies consequences, as narrated by the First reading; in fact, after Peter's response, the high priests wanted to put him to death:
"Persecutions were the consequences of this witness of obedience. When Jesus lists the Beatitudes he ends with the words ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you’” he said.
And pointing out that the cross cannot be taken away from the life of a Christian, the Pope said “being a Christian has nothing to do with social status, it is not a lifestyle that makes one feel good; being a Christian means being a witness of obedience and the life of a Christian is full of insults and persecutions”.
Pope Francis concluded his homily saying that in order to be witnesses of obedience like Jesus, it is necessary to pray, to recognize that we are sinners with much “worldliness” in our hearts and to ask God for the grace of becoming witnesses of obedience" and to not be afraid when we are insulted and persecuted "because as the Lord said: the Spirit will tell us what to answer."