Letter to the Galatians seems written for today, says Pope

For Pope Francis, the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians allows us to know the life of the Apostle and also invites us to go deeper into some current questions in the life of the Church. 

Vatican City (23/06/2021, 15:45, Gaudium Press) After closing the cycle of catechesis on Prayer last Wednesday, Pope Francis, at today’s General Audience (23/06), began a new series of sermons.

This time, the catechesis of the new cycle will be dedicated to commentaries on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. According to the Pope, the Letter to the Galatians allows us to get to know the life of the Apostle and also invites us to go deeper into some current issues in the life of the Church.

Why a cycle of catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians?

In his address to the faithful gathered in the courtyard of St. Damasus, Francis explained why he chose to speak about the Letter to the Galatians:
because “it is very important, I would say decisive, not only to know the Apostle better, but above all to consider some themes that he addresses in depth, showing the beauty of the Gospel”.

Francis also pointed out that the Letter “also addresses some very important themes for the faith, such as freedom, grace and the Christian way of life, which are very current because they affect many aspects of the life of the Church today. It is very current, it seems written for our time.” .

A danger for growth in Faith

Still according to the Pontiff, St. Paul, “after having founded these churches, realized the great danger they were in for their growth in faith.  In fact, some Christians from Judaism had infiltrated the churches and cleverly began to sow theories contrary to the Apostle’s teachings, to the point of denigrating him.

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These opponents of Paul argued that even the Gentiles had to be circumcised and live according to the rules of the Mosaic Law. They went back to the previous observances, those that had been superseded by the Gospel.

The Apostle’s opponents spread the idea that Galatians would have to renounce their cultural identity in order to submit to the rules, prescriptions and customs of the Jews.
These opponents argued that Paul was not a true apostle and therefore had no authority to preach the gospel.
And, Francis said, we often see this: “we think of a Christian community or a diocese. They start with stories and end up discrediting the parish priest, the bishop. It is the way of evil, of these people who divide. ”

But how can we recognize such people ? the pontiff asked himself. “For example,” he explained, “one of the traces of the path to follow is rigidity. Before the Gospel message that makes us free, happy, they are rigid: you have to go there, you have to do this … “.

Knowing Jesus, believing in the work of Redemption: beginning of a new life

Explaining his thoughts, the Pope pointed out that for the Galatians, “to have known Jesus and to have believed in the work of salvation accomplished by his death and resurrection was truly the beginning of a new life.”

“They embarked on a path that allowed them to finally be free,” Pope Francis said, “despite even the fact that their history was intertwined with many forms of violent slavery, including the one that subjected them to the emperor of Rome” adding further,
“Faced with the criticism of the new preachers, they felt lost and unsure of how to behave – who is right, Paul or these people who come to teach so many things? Who to listen to?”

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Why follow the teaching of Saint Paul

Therefore, the Pope invited us to follow the teaching of St. Paul in the Letter to the Galatians.

” The path indicated by the Apostle is the liberating and ever-new path of Jesus, Crucified and Risen; it is the path of proclamation, which is achieved through humility and fraternity – the new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is.”

“It is the way of proclamation, which is carried out with humility and fraternity; the new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is, it is the path of meek and obedient trust – the new preachers know neither meekness nor obedience. And this meek and obedient way leads forward in the certainty that the Holy Spirit works in the Church in every age. Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us.” concluded the Pontiff. (JSG)

(With information and photo from Vatican News)

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