For Pope Francis, legalism makes Christians stupid.

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2016 / 02:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Spirit is the “great gift” of God the Father who helps us avoid the stupidities of a legalistic faith while leading us forward in Christian life, Pope Francis has said.

“May the Lord give us this grace: to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that we will not become stupid, bewitched men and women who sadden the Holy Spirit,” the Pope remarked in his homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Martha Oct. 6.

He provided several questions for the faithful to examine their spiritual lives:

“Is my life a continual prayer to open myself to the Holy Spirit, so that He can carry me forward with the joy of the Gospel and make me understand the teaching of Jesus, the true doctrine that does not bewitch, that does not make us stupid, but the true (teaching)?”

“Do I ignore the Holy Spirit?” he asked. “And do I know that if I go to Sunday Mass, if I do this, if I do that, is it enough?”

“Is my life a kind of half a life, lukewarm, that saddens the Holy Spirit, and doesn’t allow that power in me to carry me forward, to be open?” he added.

The Pope said that continual prayer to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit “helps us understand where our weaknesses are, those things that sadden Him; and it carries us forward, and also carries forward the Name of Jesus to others and teaching the path of salvation.”

Pope Francis’ homily drew on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which included several rebukes and warnings about legalism.

The Pope noted that one can wrongly seek justification in doctrine and law, and not through Jesus “who makes sense of the Law.” There is the temptation to reduce the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ to the Law.

Paul rebuked the Galatians because “they ignored the Holy Spirit, and they did not know to go forward,” the pontiff explained.

They were “closed, closed in precepts: ‘we have to do this, we have to do that’,” he said. “At times, it can happen that we fall into this temptation.”

“(T)his attachment to the Law ignores the Holy Spirit. It does not grant that the redemption of Christ goes forward with the Holy Spirit, it ignores that. There is only the Law,” he warned.

“It is true that there are the Commandments and we have to follow the Commandments – but always through the grace of this great gift that the Father has given us, His Son, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Pope noted the spiritual danger of “those who preach with ideologies” and speak in a mindset that is “absolutely just.”

“They bewitch: it’s all clear,” he said. “But look, the revelation is not clear, eh? The revelation of God is discovered more and more each day, it is always on a journey.”

There is a different clarity to God’s revelation, he said.

“Is it clear? Yes! It is crystal clear! It is Him, but we have to discover it along the way. And those who believe they have the whole truth in their hands are not (just) ignorant.”

Paul calls the Galatians “stupid” because they have allowed themselves to be “bewitched,” the Pope explained.

Another attitude saddens the Holy Spirit when “we do not allow Him to inspire us, to lead us forward in the Christian life.” Christians should allow “the liberty of the Spirit,” not the “theology of the law,” to tell them what to do. The wrong attitude brings Christians to lukewarmness and “Christian mediocrity” because the Holy Spirit “cannot do great works in us.”

Pope Francis stressed the need “to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and let the Spirit carry us forward.”

“That’s what the Apostles did, (with) the courage of the day of Pentecost. They lost their fear and opened themselves to the Holy Spirit,” he said. This is the way to understand and welcome the words of Jesus.

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