Today, Pope Francis asks us to think about what faith is for us: “If it is primarily a duty or a bargaining chip, we are on the wrong path, because salvation is a gift and not an obligation, it is free and cannot be bought.”
Mireia Bonilla – Vatican
This afternoon, Pope Francis presented the liturgy in which the Gospel of Mark proposes a meeting between Jesus and a rich young man that “allows us to take a test of faith,” the Pope said, leaning from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace before praying to our Heavenly Mother.
Faith is not a “must do”
The Pope has asked us to look at the verbs a rich young man uses when he asks Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The young man uses the verbs: “I have to do – to have.” “This is their religiosity: a duty, a work they must; I do something to get what I need. But this is a business relationship with God, and this is something that the Pope affirms.
The pontiff noted that “faith, on the other hand, is not cold and mechanical weather, and it is a ‘must’, but a matter of freedom and love.” Therefore, the first question in the test of faith – as the Pope says – is: “What is faith to me?” The Pope explains: “If it is essentially a duty or a bargaining chip, we are in a very bad position, because salvation is a gift and not a duty, it is free and cannot be bought,” so the first thing to do is “get rid of a commercial and mechanical faith that alludes to the false image.” God is responsible and in control, not a father. And often in life, he says, “we can experience this relationship of commercial faith: I do it because God gives me this.”
Faith must be energized by seeking God’s gaze
The pope insisted that faith “is not from a duty, not from some action, but from a look of love that must be welcomed.” In this way – he pointed out – “The Christian life is beautiful, if it is not based on our abilities and projects, but on the gaze of God.” So the second question of the test of faith that the Pope invites us to ask ourselves is: “Is your faith tired and you want to revitalize it?” And the pope immediately replied: “Look at God: put yourself in worship, allow yourself to be forgiven in confession, and stand before the cross.”
We often do the bare minimum, while Jesus calls us to do as much as possible
After asking and looking there – the third and final stanza – is a call from Jesus telling him: “You only have one thing.” What is this rich man missing? “The gift, the free,” said the pope, and this – he pointed out – “which we also lack, for we often do the minimum, while Jesus calls us to do the most we can. How often do we content ourselves with duties — commandments and some prayer — while God gives us Life asks us the motives of life!”.
The third question in the test of faith proposed by the Holy Father is: “What is the state of my faith? Do I live it as something mechanical, as a relationship of duty or interest with God? For the Supreme Pontiff, faith without gift and without reward is “incomplete,” “it is a weak and sick faith.” “We can compare it to a rich and nutritious food that lacks flavour, or to a game that is played well, but without the goals,” he concluded.
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