(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the two extremes that threaten the progress
of the Church at mass Wednesday morning: Fear of any change to the status quo which
stops the Church moving forward and a tendency to follow every change dictated by
today’s culture, which he described as an ‘adolescent progressivism’ that risks ‘de-railing’
Instead, the way forward for the Church, as indicated by the Holy Spirit, is that of "freedom," in continuously discerning God’s will and, he added, rules which kill charisms should not be imposed. The problem and temptation, said Pope Francis, is that we cannot control the Holy Spirit.. Emer McCarthy reports:
The Pope’s homily centered around Jesus’ words in the Gospel of the day, (MT 5:17) " Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets." He said this Gospel passage which follows the Beatitudes is "an expression of the new law" which is more demanding than that of Moses. This law, the Pope added, is "the fruit of the Covenant" and cannot be understood without it. "This Alliance, this law is sacred because it brought the people to God." Pope Francis likened the "maturity of this law" to a " bursting bud that reveals a flower." Jesus "is the expression of the maturity of the law". The Pope noted that Paul speaks of two times "without breaking continuity" between the law of history and the law of the Spirit:
"The hour of the law’s fulfillment, is when the law reaches its maturity when it becomes the law of the Spirit. Moving forward on this road is somewhat risky, but it is the only road to maturity, to leave behind the times in which we are not mature. Part of the law’s journey to maturity, which comes with preaching Jesus, always involves fear; fear of the freedom that the Spirit gives us. The law of the Spirit makes us free! This freedom frightens us a little, because we are afraid we will confuse the freedom of the Spirit with human freedom. "
Pope Francis continued, the law of the Spirit, "takes us on a path of continuous discernment to do the will of God” and this can frighten us. The Pope warned that this fear "brings two temptations with it." The first, is to "go backwards" to say that "it’s possible up to this point, but impossible beyond this point" which ends up becoming "let’s stay here". This, he warned, "is the temptation of fear of freedom, fear of the Holy Spirit." A fear that "it is better to play it safe." Pope Francis then told a story about a superior general who, in the 1930’s, went around compiling a list of regulations for his religious, "a work that took years." Then he travelled to Rome to meet a Benedictine abbot, who, upon hearing all he had done, replied that in doing so he "had killed his Congregation’s charism", "he had killed its freedom" since "this charism bears fruit in freedom and he had stopped the charism”.
"This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are 'safer' going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward, which gives us this trust - as Paul says - which is more demanding because Jesus tells us: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law”. It is more demanding! But it does not give us that human security. We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation. "
Pope Francis noted that there is another temptation: that of “adolescent progressivism”, that de-rails us. This temptation lies in seeing a culture and “not detaching ourselves from it”.
"We take the values of this culture a little bit from here, a little bit from there , ... They want to make this law? Alright let’s go ahead and make this law. Let’s broaden the boundaries here a little. In the end, let me tell you, this is not true progress. It is adolescent progressivism: just like teenagers who in their enthusiasm want to have everything and in the end? You slip up ... It’s like when the road is covered in ice and the car slips and go off track... This is the other temptation at the moment! We, at this moment in the history of the Church, we cannot go backwards or go off the track! "
Pope Francis concluded : the track "is that of freedom in the Holy Spirit that makes us free, in continuous discernment of God's will to move forward on this path, without going back and without going off-track". Let us ask the Lord for "the grace that the Holy Spirit gives us to go forward."
Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, accompanied by priests, religious and lay staff of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.