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Pope: Do I do what’s right for fear of Hell?

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 08/18/21

In Christ we are called to a demanding lifestyle in freedom, says Pope Francis in reflecting on Galatians.

Pope Francis continued his explanation of St. Paul’s teaching on the Law found in the Book of Galatians.

At the August 18 general audience, the Pope noted how St. Paul presents the Law in a “before and after” situation with Christ … the same as Paul’s own life had a “before and after” with Christ’s entrance into it.

Now justified by Christ, we “are called to the demanding lifestyle of the freedom of the Gospel.”

The Apostle’s conviction is that the Law certainly possesses a positive function – like the pedagogue in accompanying his ward – but it is a function that is limited in time. It cannot extend its duration too far, because it is linked to the maturation of individuals and their choice of freedom. Once one has come to faith, the Law exhausts its propedeutic value and must give way to another authority.

What does this mean? That after the Law we can say, “We believe in Jesus Christ and do what we want?” No! The Commandments exist, but they do not justify us. What makes us just is Jesus Christ. The Commandments must be observed, but they do not give us justice; there is the gratuitousness of Jesus Christ, the encounter with Jesus Christ that freely justifies us. The merit of faith is receiving Jesus. The only merit: opening the heart.

And what do we do with the Commandments? We must observe them, but as an aid to the encounter with Jesus Christ.

All is grace

The Pope said it’s important to take stock of how well we understand this.

Do “we still live in the period in which we need the Law [to be justified], or if instead we are fully aware of having received the grace of becoming children of God so as to live in love,” he asked.

How do I live? In the fear that if I do not do this, I will go to hell? Or do I live with that hope too, with that joy of the gratuitousness of salvation in Jesus Christ? 

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Pope Francis
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