Wednesday, June 20, 2018

General Audience on Ten Words

This morning's General Audience began at 9:35am (3:35am EDT) in Saint Peter's Square, where the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with groups of pilgrims and the faithful from Italy and from every corner of the world.

Before going to Saint Peter's Square, inside the Paul VI Hall, the Pope met with various groups of the sick and in particular a group of sick persons from SLA on the occasion of the World Day of SLA which will be celebrated tomorrow - 21 June.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to the sick

Good morning!

Thank you for your visit.  Before I go to the Square, I want to greet you.  You will be able to follow the Audience on the jumbotron; we will all be united.  Thank you for this visit.  I assure you that I am praying for you and I ask you to pray for me.  Now, I invite you to pray with me; let's pray to Our Lady.

Hail Mary ...


In his speech, the Pope continued the new cycle of catechesis on the Commandments, adding his meditation on the theme: Ten Words to live the Covenant.  His Holiness' meditation was focused on 2 Corinthians 3:5b-6:17).

After having summarized his catechesis in various languages, the Holy Father offered particular greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.  Before the conclusion of the Audience, after having enjoyed a brief performance by the Rony Roller Circus, the Pope offered them a few words of greeting.

The General Audience concluded with the chanting of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic benediction.

Catechesis of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This audience is taking place in two locations: we are here in the Square, and in the Paul VI Hall there are more than 200 sick persons following the audience on the jumbotron.  All together, we make up one community.  Let us greet one another with applause.

Last Wednesday, we began a new cycle of catechesis on the Commandments.  We saw that the Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.  But we need to understand this prospective better.

In the Bible, the Commandments do not stand on their own merits; rather, they are part of a relationship.  The Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  And there is this relationship with the Covenant* between God and his People.  In the beginning of the 20th chapter of the Book of Exodus, we read - and this is important - God spoke all these words (Exodus 20:1).

This seems to be an opening like all others, but nothing in the Bible is haphazard.  The text does not say: God spoke these commandments, but rather these words.  The Hebrew tradition always referred to the Decalogue as the ten Words.  And the term decalogue means precisely this**.  Yet, they are in the form of laws, but objectively, they are commandments.  Why then does the Sacred author use, especially here, the term ten words?  Why does he not say ten commandments?

What difference is there between a command and a word?  A command is a communication that does not require dialogue.  Instead, the word is the essential means of speaking in dialogue.  God our Father created through his word, and his Son is the Word made flesh.  Love feeds us with words, this is the process of education or collaboration.  Two persons who do not love each other, will never be able to communicate.  When someone speaks to our hearts, our loneliness disappears.  He who receives a word provides communication and the Commandments are God's words: God communicates them through the ten Words, and he awaits our response.

Another is to receive an order, another is to perceive that someone tries to talk with us. A dialogue is much more than the communication of a truth. I can tell you: Today is the last day of spring; it has been a warm spring, but today is the last day. This is a truth, it is not a dialogue. But if I tell you: What do you think of this spring?, I begin a dialogue. The commandments are a dialogue. Communication is realized for the pleasure of speaking and for the concrete good that is communicated between those who love each other through words. It is a good that does not consist in things, but in the same people who reciprocally give themselves in dialogue (cf Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 142).

But this difference is not an artificial thing. Let's look at what happened at the beginning. The Tempter, the devil, wants to deceive man and woman on this point: he wants to convince them that God has forbidden them to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil to keep them submissive. The challenge is this: the first rule that God has given to man, is the imposition of a despot who prohibits and forces, or is the care of a father who is taking care of his children and protects them from self-destruction? Is it a word or is it a command? The most tragic, among the various lies that the snake says to Eve, is the suggestion of an envious deity - But no, God is envious of you - of a deity and possessive - God does not want you to have freedom. The facts show dramatically that the snake lied (cf Gen 2:16-17; 3.4-5), made believe that a word of love was a command.

Man is facing this crossroads: does God impose things on me or take care of me? Are his commandments just a law or do they contain a word, to take care of me? God is master or Father? God is Father: never forget this. Even in the worst situations, think that we have a Father who loves us all. Are we subjects or children? This fight, both inside and outside of us, occurs continuously: a thousand times we have to choose between a slave mentality and a mentality as children. The commandment is from the master, the word is from the Father.

The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of sons, he is the Spirit of Jesus. A spirit of slaves can only accept the Law in an oppressive way, and can produce two opposite results: either a life made up of duties and obligations, or a violent reaction of refusal. For all Christianity, the passage from the letter of the Law to the Spirit of the law gives life (cf 2 Cor 3: 5-17). Jesus is the Word of the Father; he is not the condemnation of the Father. Jesus came to save, with his Word, not to condemn us.

We can easily see when a man or a woman has lived this passage or not. People realize if a Christian is reasoning as a son or as a slave. And we ourselves remember if our teachers took care of us as fathers and mothers, or if they only imposed rules on us. The commandments are the path to freedom, because they are the word of the Father that makes us free on this journey.

The world doesn't need legalism, but rather a heart.  The world needs Christians with the hearts of children. It needs Christians with the hearts of children: don't forget this.

This catechesis was then summarized in various languages and the Holy Father shared particular greetings with each group of the faithful in attendance.  To English-speaking guests, he said:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Sweden, Switzerland, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

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