Today is the International Day of Families: Let us pray for families, that the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love, respect, and freedom, grows in families.
This was Pope Francis’ intention for morning Mass of May 15. His homily focused on the situation recounted in the First Reading, when the early Church had to confront the debate about Gentiles who became Christians, and those who wanted them to become Jewish first.
This led the Holy Father to speak about rigidity: “Where there is rigidity, there is not the Spirit of God, because the Spirit of God is liberty.”
He underlined how justification is given freely, that the grace of the death and resurrection of Christ is given freely: “You don’t pay for it it. You don’t buy it. It is a gift.”
The Apostles gathered in this council and at the end, wrote the letter that began like this: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,’ and they outlined these more moral obligations, of common sense: to not confuse Christianity with paganism. When these Christians who were worried, gathered in assembly, received this letter, ‘they were delighted with the exhortation.’ From sadness to joy. The spirit of rigidity always gives distress. ‘Have I done this right? Did I not do it well?’ Scruples. In contrast, the spirit of Gospel freedom brings you to joy, because this is precisely what Jesus did with the Resurrection: joy. A relationship with God, with Jesus, does not bring you to say: ‘I’ll do this and you give me that.’ Like a business relationship. No. It’s free, just as the relationship of Jesus with the disciples is given freely: ‘You are my friends. I don’t call you servants, I call you friends. You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.’ This is what it is to be given freely.
Pope Francis invited us to pray for help “to discern the fruits of Gospel gratuitousness from the fruits of a rigidity that is not of the Gospel, and that he free us from the distress of those who place the faith, the life of faith, under casuistic prescriptions, prescriptions that don’t have meaning. I am speaking about those prescriptions that don’t make sense, not the Commandments. That he free us from this spirit of rigidity that takes away freedom.”