Sat. Aug 6th, 2022

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We have reached the end of the catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians. We could have reflected on so much other content contained in this writing of Saint Paul! The Word of God is an inexhaustible font. And in this letter, the Apostle has spoken to us as an evangelizer, as a theologian and as a pastor.

The holy bishop Ignatius of Antioch used a beautiful expression when he wrote: “There is then one Teacher, who spoke and it was done; while even those things which He did in silence are worthy of the Father. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even His very silence” (To the Ephesians, 15, 1-2). We can say that the apostle Paul was capable of giving voice to this silence of God. His most original intuitions help us discover the shocking newness contained in the revelation of Jesus Christ. He was a true theologian who contemplated the mystery of Christ and transmitted it with his creative intelligence. And he was also capable of exercising his pastoral mission towards a lost and confused community.

He did this with different methods: from time to time he used irony, firmness, gentleness…. He revealed his own authority as an apostle, but at the same time he did not hide the weaknesses of his character. The strength of the Spirit had truly entered his heart: his meeting with the Risen Christ conquered and transformed his entire life, and he spent it entirely at the service of the Gospel. This is Paul.

Paul never conceived of Christianity in peaceful terms, lacking bite and force—on the contrary. With such passion he defended the freedom Christ brought that it stills moves us today, especially if we think of the suffering and loneliness he must have endured. He was convinced that he had received a call to which he alone could respond; and he wanted to explain to the Galatians that they too were called to that freedom which liberated them from every form of slavery because it made them heirs of the ancient promise and, in Christ, children of God.

And aware of the risks that this concept of freedom brought, he never minimized the consequences. He was aware of the risks that Christian freedom brought. But he did not minimize the consequences. With parrhesia, that is, courageously, he repeated to the believers that freedom is in no way equal to debauchery, nor does it lead to forms of presumptuous self-sufficiency.

Rather, Paul placed freedom in love’s shadow and based its consistent exercise on the service of charity. This entire vision was set within the panorama of a life according to the Holy Spirit that brings to fulfillment the Law given by God to Israel and prevents falling back into the slavery of sin. But the temptation is always to go backward, right? One definition of Christians found in the Scripture says that we Christians are not the type of people who go backward, who turn back. This is a beautiful definition. And the temptation is to turn back to be more secure. And in this case, to turn back to the Law, disregarding the new life of the Spirit. This is what Paul teaches us: the fulfillment of the true Law is found in this life of the Spirit given to us by Jesus. And this life of the Spirit can only be lived in freedom. Christian freedom. This is one of the most beautiful things, most beautiful.

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