(Vatican Radio) In his Mass on Saturday morning at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis
said being Christian “does not mean doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed
by the Holy Spirit.” The Pope emphasised that even in the life of the Church there
are “ancient structures” to be renewed without fear.
“New wine in new wineskins.” In his homily, Pope Francis dwelt on the renewal that Jesus brings. “The doctrine of the law,” he noted, “is enriched, renewed with Jesus . . . Jesus makes all things new.” He said Jesus brings a “true renewal of the law, the same law, but more mature, renewed.” He explained that what Jesus requires of us is greater than the requirements of the law. The law allows us to hate our enemy; Jesus, on the other hand, tells us to pray for him. This, then, is “the Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches”: a renewal above all “in our heart.” We think that “being Christian means doing this, or doing that; but it is not so:
“Being Christian means allowing oneself to be renewed by Jesus in this new life. ‘I am a good Christian, I go to Mass every Sunday from 11 til noon, I do this, I do that’. . . as if it were a collection. But the Christian life is not a collage of things. It is a harmonious whole, harmonious, and the Holy Spirit does it! He renews all things: He renews our heart, our life, and makes us live differently, but in a way that takes up the whole of our life. You cannot be a Christian of pieces, a part time Christian. Being a part-time Christian simply doesn’t work! The whole, everything, full-time. The Spirit accomplishes this renewal. Being Christian ultimately means, not doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit – or, to use the words of Jesus, becoming new wine.”
The newness of the Gospel, he continued, is really new, “but in the same law that comes in the history of Salvation.” And this newness, he said, “goes beyond us,” it renews us and “renews the structures.” This is why Jesus says that new wineskins are necessary for new wine:
“In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures . . . It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons. The Church has always done this! From the very first moment, we remember the first theological battle: was it necessary to carry out all of the Jewish practices in order to be Christian? No! They said no! The gentiles could enter as they are: gentiles . . . Entering into the Church and receiving Baptism. A first renewal of the structures. . . . And so the Church always goes forward, giving space to the Holy Spirit that renews these structures, structures of the churches. Don’t be afraid of that! Don’t be afraid of the newness of the Gospel! Don’t be afraid of the newness that the Holy Spirit works in us! Don’t be afraid of the renewal of structures!”
The Church, he said, “is free: the Holy Spirit carries her forward.” The Gospel teaches this: “the liberty to always find the newness of the Gospel in us, in our life, and even in our structures.” The Pope then re-iterated the importance of the “freedom to choose new wineskins for this newness.” He added that the Christian is free, “with that liberty” that Jesus gives us. A Christian “is not a slave of habits, of structures. . . . The Spirit carries [the Christian] forward.” The Pope then recalled that on the day of Pentecost, the Madonna was there with the disciples:
“And where the mother is, the children are safe! All of them! Let us ask for the grace of not being afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of not being afraid of the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings, of not being afraid to let go of the passing structures that imprison us. If we are afraid, we know that the Mother is with us. And like children who are a little afraid, let us go to her – and she, as the ancient antiphon says, – ‘will protect us with her cloak, with her motherly protection.’ Amen.
A group of Swiss Guard recruits took part in Saturday's liturgy, the last group to take part in the Pope's daily Mass before the summer break.