Christians should be open to change, says pope


Important characteristics for Christians include being open to change while firm in faith, says Pope Francis. But that is not the same as being rigid and unwilling to bend out of compassion for another.

Speaking to a crowd in St Peter’s Square before reciting the Angelus on Sunday, he said God is love and “the one who loves does not remain rigid.

“Yes, they stand firm, but not rigid; they do not remain rigid in their own positions, but allow themselves to be moved and touched.”

Francis also commented on the day’s Gospel – the story of the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter. At first, Jesus brushes her off since she is not Jewish. But he sees her persistent faith and grants her request.

“Later,” the pope said, “the Holy Spirit would push the church to the ends of the world,” but at that point Jesus was preaching to the Jews.

“Faced with her concrete case, he becomes even more sympathetic and compassionate.

“This is what God is like: he is love, and the one who loves does not remain rigid.”

“Love is creative,” he said. “And we Christians who want to imitate Christ, we are invited to be open to change.”

Francis suggested that in faith and relationships with others, people need to notice and be willing “to soften up in the name of compassion and the good of others, like Jesus did with the Canaanite woman.”

Another aspect of the story is the woman’s strong and insistent faith that Jesus could heal her daughter, he noted.

The woman “probably had little or no awareness of the laws and religious precepts” of Judaism. She comes up to him, prostrates herself and has a “frank dialogue” with him, Francis said.

“This is the concreteness of faith, which is not a religious label but is a personal relationship with the Lord.”

Consider whether you show Christ’s compassion and flexibility and the Canaanite woman’s bold faith, he invited the crowd.

“Do I know how to be understanding and do I know how to be compassionate, or do I remain rigid in my position?” Francis asked them to consider.

“Is there some rigidity in my heart, which is not firmness? Rigidity is bad, but firmness is good.”

“Do I know how to dialogue with the Lord? Do I know how to insist with him? Or am I content to recite beautiful formulas?”



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