“The power of grace must be combined with our acts of mercy. We are called to live to testify to the greatness of God’s love. We can all move forward with the belief that we are justified in Christ” – Pope Francis’ general philosophical thoughts on justification.
Joey Cariveli, Vatican City
This week (29/09/2021) the weekly public viewing was allowed to take place at the Paul VI Hall near the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. Many pilgrims and visitors of different nationalities and languages were present at this hall. Upon entering the hall, the people greeted the pope with joy. After greeting everyone, the Pope arrived in Rome at about 09.30 am, and at 1 pm in India, the public viewing of the Trinity began. Then the scriptures were recited in different languages. Addressing the people after this reading, the Pope analyzed the idea of justification in his series of sermons in addition to the ideas in the epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians.
Summary of the Pope’s Weekly Public Sermon:
Dear brothers and sisters, good day!
In our journey to better understand the teachings of St. Paul, what we encounter today is a difficult but significant justification. What is justification? We sinners have become righteous. Who justified us? Justification is this transformational process. There has been much discussion on this subject to find an interpretation that is more consistent with the thought of the apostle. But as often happens, it leads to the opposite. Paul emphasizes in his epistles to the Galatians and Romans that the origin of justification is from faith in Christ.
“Justification” is the result of divine mercy
What is hidden behind the word “justification” which is crucial for faith? It is not easy to come to a comprehensive definition, but in St. Paul’s holistic thinking it can be simply said that justification is the result of “divine mercy forgiving” (Catholic Church Theology, 1990). In fact, through Jesus’ death, God destroyed sin and gave us forgiveness and salvation in a definite way. Thus God accepts justified sinners and reconciles them to Himself. It is like a return to the original relationship that existed between the Creator and creation before the disobedience caused by sin. Therefore, God’s justification allows us to regain the purity we have lost through sin. How does justification occur? The answer to this question is similar to finding another novelty in St. Paul’s exhortation: That is, justification is by grace.
“Justification” by the grace of God
The apostle always had in his mind the experience that changed his life: that is, his encounter with the risen Jesus on the way to Damascus. Paul was a proud, godly, and zealous man who was convinced that justice and righteousness were to be found. But now that he has been subdued by Christ, his faith has profoundly transformed him, enabling him to discover the truth that has hitherto been hidden, that is, we are not justified by our efforts, but by the grace of God who justifies us. Therefore, in order to gain a complete knowledge of the mystery of Jesus, Paul was willing to give up all that he had previously had (Philippians 3: 7), because he found that only God’s grace had saved him.
“Justification” by Faith
Faith has the value of embracing all things for the apostle. It touches every aspect of the believer’s life: everything from baptism to his departure from this world is filled with faith in the death and resurrection of the Savior Jesus. Justification by faith. He emphasizes the importance of the gift of grace that God gives to those who believe in His Sunnah, without distinction.
God’s grace is fundamental, not our strength
However, we should not assume that the Mosaic Law was no longer valid for Paul; In fact, it remains God’s unchanging gift, and the apostle writes that it is “holy” (Rom. 7:12). It is essential to keep the commandments for our spiritual life as well, but here too we cannot rely on our own strength: the grace of God which we receive in Christ is fundamental. It is from Him that we receive the free love that enables us to love the whole.
Spiritual faith in love for God and neighbor
At this point, it is good to remember the exhortation of the apostle James: “Man is justified not only by faith but also by works… Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:24:26). James’ words sum up Paul’s exhortation. Therefore, for both, the response to faith needs to be active in love of God and neighbor.
The light of faith
In the long history of persecution that shows God’s righteousness, justification encompasses us: God does not humble Himself in the face of our continual failures and shortcomings, but He is willing to make us righteous, and He did it by grace, through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, the light of faith allows us to recognize the infinite grace of God, the grace that works for our good. But the same light also shows us the responsibility we have to cooperate with God in his saving work. The power of grace must be combined with our works of mercy, and we are called to live to testify to the greatness of God’s love. We can move forward with this faith, that is, we are all justified in Christ. We must achieve this justice by our actions. Thanks.
Following these words, a summary of the Pope’s sermon in Italian was read in various languages, including English and Arabic, and at the end of each reading, the Pope greeted the speakers in Italian.
Papa hurts in Nigerian armed conflict
He expressed his condolences over last Sunday’s (26/09/21) armed attack in the northern African country of Nigeria, and the Pope commemorated those who lost their lives and wounds, and wished security to all its citizens.
At the end of the public viewing, the pope, as usual, greeted the elderly, the sick, the young, and the newlyweds.
Feast of the Archangels
The Pope recalled that the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael is celebrated on September 29 and the Feast of the Guardian Angels is celebrated on October 2. The pope said that there is no doubt that we should walk in faith in the ways that God’s providence shows us. The pope then gave his apostolic blessing to all.