The Pontiff warned that St Paul’s teaching on the value of the law “is very important and deserves to be considered carefully so that we do not fall into mistakes or take false steps”.
Vatican City (18/08/2021 17:45, Gaudium Press) During the general audience on Wednesday, 18 August, Pope Francis continued his series of catecheses on the Letter to the Galatians. This time, the Pontiff focused on the propaedeutic value of the Law, according to the teaching of St. Paul the Apostle.
Pope Francis began his catechesis by asking “what, according to the Letter to the Galatians, is the role of the Law?” Quoting a passage from the Letter to the Galatians (Gal 3:23-25), the Holy Father explained that St. Paul uses a beautiful image, which deserves to be understood in its proper meaning: the Law was like a pedagogue.
The function of the Law in Israel’s history
In ancient times, the pedagogue’s function was not the same as that attributed to him nowadays, to give education to a young person. The pedagogue, at that time, was a slave who was responsible for accompanying the master’s son to the master and then bringing him home, protecting him from danger and keeping an eye on him to make sure he did not misbehave. His function was therefore disciplinary and ceased when the boy became an adult.
In using this reference, St.. Paul clarifies the function of the Law in Israel’s history. “The Torah had been an act of magnanimity on the part of God towards his people. It certainly had restrictive functions, but at the same time it protected the people, educated them, disciplined them and sustained them in their weakness,” he explained.
The Law is overcome when Faith arrives
However, for the Apostle, despite having a positive function, the Law is limited in time and its duration should not be prolonged, because of the maturity of individuals and their choice of freedom. When Faith comes, the Law exhausts its propedeutic value and must give way to another authority.
“This teaching on the value of the law is very important and deserves to be considered carefully so as not to fall into misunderstanding or take false steps. It will do us good to ask ourselves whether we still live in the period when we need the Law, or whether we are well aware that we have received the grace of becoming children of God in order to live in love,” he concluded. (EPC)