24/10/2016 | DOMENICO AGASSO JR | VATICAN CITY | LA STAMPA
At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, the Pope said rigid people lead a “double life”, they seem good but they often aren’t; they are strangers to God’s freedom, “slaves of the law”. “How they suffer”!
Beneath the rigid exterior of a person who is not free because he or she is a slave to the law, is a double life, something hidden, some sort of disease. Often wickedness. By contrast, the Lord gives freedom, in addition to meekness and kindness, Pope Francis said in this morning’s homily in St. Martha’s House.
In today’s Gospel story, Christ heals a woman on a Saturday, stirring feelings of contempt and protest in the synagogue chief who claimed the “Law of the Lord” was violated: “It is not easy,” the Pope remarked, “to walk in the Law of the Lord,” it is “a grace we need to ask for”.
The Son of God calls the synagogue chief a hypocrite, a word “he uses so often to refer to those who are rigid and unyielding in their insistence on applying the law down to the last letter”. These people are not free, “they are slaves of the Law”. But “the Law was not made to enslave us but to set us free, to make us children” of the Lord. “Beneath rigidity there is something else, always! This is why Jesus says: hypocrites!”
Francis said: “beneath rigidity there is something hidden about a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift of God. Meekness is; kindness is; benevolence is; forgiveness is. But rigidity is not! Beneath rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life; but there is also some sort of disease lingering there. How the rigid suffer: when they are sincere and they acknowledge this they suffer! Because they are unable to feel the freedom that God’s children feel; they do not know what it is like to walk in the Law of the Lord and they are not blessed. And they suffer so much!” They seem “good because they follow the Law; but beneath that there is something not so nice about them: either they are bad or they are hypocrites or they are ill. They suffer!”
The Bishop of Rome recalled the parable of the Prodigal Son: the elder son’s attitude of indignation shows what lies behind some forms of goodness; “The arrogance of believing oneself to be right”. “Beneath one’s good actions lies arrogance. He knew he had a father and in his darkest hour he went to his father; he had only ever seen his father as a master not as a father. H ewas rigid; he walked in the Law in a rigid way. The other one set the Law aside and went off without the law, against the Law but there came a point when he remembered his father and came back. And he was forgiven. It is not easy walking in the Law of the lord without drifting towards rigidity.”
The Pope concluded by invoking God and inviting faithful to pray “for our brothers and sisters who believe that walking in the Law of the Lord means becoming rigid. May the Lord show them that He is the Father and He likes mercy, tenderness, kindness, meekness and humility. May he teach us all to walk in the Law of the Lord, adopting all of these attitudes”.