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Renewal without fear

· The Pope’s Mass at Santa Marta ·

At Mass on Saturday morning, 6 July, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Pope Francis extended an invitation to the special groups and Vatican staff participating in the Mass to  let themselves be renewed by the Holy Spirit and not to fear the new, or renewal.

Commenting on the Gospel (Mt 9:14-17) the Pope put the accent on the innovative spirit that motivated Jesus. “For example”, he pointed out, “Jesus said: ‘the law permits us to hate our enemy, you hate your enemy; but I say to you, pray for your enemy, do not hate’”; and he applied this precept to things he did not find so just. For  example, as the Gospel passage says, the question of fasting. “Jesus” the Pope explained, advised fasting, but with a certain freedom. In fact disciples of John ask: “why do we fast and your disciples do not?”. The fact is that “with Jesus the doctrine of the law is enriched, it is renewed. Jesus makes all things new, he renews things”, as he himself said, as if it were his vocation to renew all things. “This is the kingdom of God which Jesus preached. It is renewal, true renewal. And this renewal begins first of all in our heart”.

Christian life is not a collage of things. It is a harmonious totality, the work of the Holy Spirit.  “we cannot be Christian in bits and pieces, part-time Christians”, the Pope said. “We must be wholly Christian and full time”.

“The newness of the Gospel is a newness in the law itself inherent in the history of salvation”. It is a newness that goes beyond us and “renews structures. That is why Jesus said new wine needs new skins”. The Church, the Pope continued, has always gone in this direction, letting the Holy Spirit renew structures. And she teaches people “not to be afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of the newness the Holy Spirit works within us”.

Moreover, the Church is free, the Pope said. She is sustained by the Holy Spirit and Jesus teaches us the freedom we need always to find the newness of the Gospel in our life and in structures. The freedom to choose new skins for this newness. The Christian is a free man or woman, with that freedom of Jesus Christ, and not a slave of habit or of structures”; moreover, it has always been the Holy Spirit who carries this newness ahead.

The Bishop of Rome ended by inviting those present to ask for “the grace not to be afraid of the newness of the Gospel or of the renewal that the Holy Spirit carries out; and not to be afraid to let go of the short-lived structures that imprison us”.

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