VATICAN CITY — Courage “means speaking the truth openly and without compromise,” like Peter and John who — strengthened by the Holy Spirit — would not be silenced when the religious leaders of their day ordered them not to speak about Jesus.
“Never forget that our faith is concrete and rejects compromise,” the pope said during his homily at Holy Mass in the chapel of his residence at Santa Marta. Among those present at the Mass were the Cardinal counselors of the C-9, who are meeting with the Holy Father on Monday.
The pope reflected on the freedom the Holy Spirit gives us, which brings about the proclamation of the Gospel without compromises or rigidity.
Following the Easter break, Pope Francis on Monday resumed his regular morning Masses. His homily this morning was based on today’s Gospel account of Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus. The Holy Father said that Jesus, with love and patience, explained to Nicodemus that he must be “born from above… born of the Holy Spirit.”
To understand this better, the pope said, one can consider the first Reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John have healed a crippled man, and the doctors of the Law don’t know what to do, how “to hide” what happened, “because the event was public.” When they were questioned, Peter and John “answered with simplicity”; and when they were ordered not to speak about what happened, Peter responded, “No! We cannot remain silent about what we have seen and heard. And we will continue to do as we have been doing.”
The Word became flesh; our faith is concrete
See, then, the pope said, “the concreteness of a fact, the concreteness of the faith” in contrast to the position of the doctors of the law who “wanted to enter into negotiations, to come to a compromise”: Peter and John “have courage, they have frankness, the frankness of the Spirit,” “which means speaking the truth openly, with courage, without compromises.” This is “the point,” “the concreteness of the faith”:
“At times we forget that our faith is concrete: the Word was made flesh; it is not made an idea. And when we recite the Creed, everything we say is concrete: ‘I believe in God the Father, Who made heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ Who was born, Who died…’ These are all concrete things. Our Creed does not say, ‘I have to do this, I have to do that, I have to do something else, or that some things are for these ends.’ No! They are concrete things. [This is] the concreteness of the faith that leads to frankness, to bearing witness even to the point of martyrdom, which is against compromises or the idealization of the faith.”
A theology of ‘yes, you can’ and ‘no, you can’t’?
For these doctors of the law, he continued, the Word “was not made flesh: it was made law: and you must do this up to this point, and no further”; “you must do this, and nothing else”:
“And so they were imprisoned in this rationalistic mentality, which did not end with them. Because in the history of the Church – although often the Church Herself has condemned rationalism, illuminism – later it often happened that it fell into a theology of ‘yes, you can, no you can’t; up to this point, thus far.’ And it forgot the strength, the freedom of the Spirit, this rebirth of the Spirit that gives you liberty, the frankness of preaching, the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The Lord gives us the Spirit in order to proclaim the Gospel without compromise
“Let us ask the Lord,” the pope said, for “this experience of the Spirit Who comes and goes and bears us onward; of the Spirit Who gives us the anointing of the faith, the anointing of the concreteness of the faith”:
“The wind blows where it will and you hear the voice, but you don’t know where it is coming from or where it is going. So it is for anyone who is born of the Spirit: He hears the voice, he follows the voice, he follows the voice of the Spirit without knowing where it will end. Because he has made an option for the concreteness of the faith and the rebirth of the Spirit. May the Lord grant to all of us this Easter Spirit, of going forward along the path of the Spirit without compromises, without rigidity, with the liberty of proclaiming Jesus Christ as He Who has come: in the flesh.”