Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 13 October2021
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In our itinerary of catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians, we have been able to focus on what was for Saint Paul the core of freedom: the fact that, with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been freed from the slavery of sin and of death. In other words, we are free because we have been freed, freed by grace – not by payment, freed by love, which becomes the supreme and new law of Christian life. Love: we are free because we were liberated freely. This, in fact, is the key point.
Today I would like to emphasise how this novelty of life opens us up to welcoming every people and culture, and at the same time opens every people and culture to a greater freedom. In fact, Saint Paul says that for those who follow Christ, it no longer matters if they are Jewish or pagan. The only thing that counts is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). To believe that we have been freed, and to believe in Jesus Christ who freed us: this is faith working through love. Paul’s detractors – those fundamentalists who had arrived there -
Paul’s thinking yet again shows an inspired depth. To welcome faith for him involves renouncing not the heart of cultures and traditions, but only that which may hinder the newness and purity of the Gospel. Because the freedom obtained through the death and resurrection of the Lord does not enter into conflict with cultures or with the traditions we have received, but rather introduces into them a new freedom, a liberating novelty, that of the Gospel. Indeed, the liberation obtained through baptism enables us to acquire the full dignity of children of God, so that, while we remain firmly anchored in our cultural roots, at the same time we open ourselves to the universalism of faith that enters into every culture, recognises the kernels of truth present, and develops them, bringing to fullness the good contained in them. To accept that we have been liberated by Christ -
In the call to freedom we discover the true meaning of the inculturation of the Gospel. What is this true meaning? Being able to announce the Good News of Christ the Saviour respecting the good and the true that exist in cultures. It is not easy! There are many temptations to seek to impose one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing. How many errors have been made in the history of evangelisation by seeking to impose a single cultural model! Uniformity as a rule of life is not Christian! Unity yes, uniformity no! At times, even violence was not spared in order to make a single point of view prevail. Think of wars. In this way, the Church has been deprived of the richness of many local expressions that the cultural traditions of entire peoples bring with them. But this is the exact opposite of Christian freedom! For example, I am reminded of the approach to the apostolate established in China with Father Ricci, or in India with Father De Nobili… [Some said] “No, this is not Christian!” Yes, it is Christian, it is in the culture of the people.
In short, Paul’s vision of freedom is entirely enlightened and rendered fruitful by the mystery of Christ, who in his incarnation -
Besides, culture is by its very nature in continual transformation. If one thinks of how we are called to proclaim the Gospel in this historical moment of great cultural change, where an ever more advanced technology seems to have the upper hand. If we were to speak of faith as we did in previous centuries, we would run the risk of no longer being understood by the new generations. The freedom of Christian faith – Christian freedom -
I greet the English-