Pope Francis: Familiarity with Jesus Sets us Free. October 3, 2017

Pope Francis: Familiarity with Jesus Sets us Free.......


Those who hear the Word of God and act on it: this is the concept of the family for Jesus, a concept of family that is “wider than that of the world.” That was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that it is precisely those who come to Him, and listen to His preaching, who are His “mother,” and His “brothers”: His family. And this, the Pope said, makes us think of the concept of familiarity with God and with Jesus, which is something more than being “disciples” or even “friends”; it is not a “formal” or “polite” attitude, much less a “diplomatic” one. So, he asked, “what does this word – familiarity – which the spiritual fathers of the Church have used so often, and have taught us, actually mean?”

First of all, he said, it means “entering into the home of Jesus, to enter into that atmosphere, to live in that atmosphere that is in the home of Jesus. To live there, to contemplate, to be free. Because the children are free, those who reside in the house of the Lord are free, those who have a familiar relationship with Him are free. Others, to use a word from the Bible, are the children of the ‘slave woman.’ We might say that they are Christians, but they don’t dare to draw near to Him, they don’t dare have this familiarity with the Lord. There is always a distance that separates them from the Lord.”

But familiarity with Jesus, as the great Saints teach us, also means “standing with Him, looking to Him, hearing His Word, seeking to do it, speaking with Him.” We speak to him in prayer, Pope Francis emphasized, and we can pray even in common language: “But Lord, what do you think?” “This is familiarity, isn’t it?” the Pope said. “Always! The saints had it. Saint Teresa is beautiful, because she said she found God everywhere, even among the pans in the kitchen.”

Finally, Pope Francis said familiarity means “remaining” in the presence of Jesus, as He Himself counsels us at the Last Supper; or as we see recorded at the beginning of the Gospel, when John says, “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And Andrew and John followed Jesus” and, as it is written, “they remained, stayed with Him all day.”

And this, the Pope repeated once again, is the attitude of familiarity; which is so different from the “goodness” of those Christians who nonetheless keep themselves at a distance from Jesus, saying, “You stay over there, and I’ll stay here.” And so, Pope Francis said, “let us take a step forward in this attitude of familiarity with the Lord. A Christian, with all his problems, who gets on the bus, or on the subway, and speaks internally with the Lord – or at least knows that the Lord is watching him – is close to Him: this is familiarity, closeness, feeling oneself a part of the family of Jesus. Let us ask for this grace for all of us, to understand the meaning of familiarity with the Lord. May the Lord grant us this grace.”

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