Pope Francis: Their system chased the people away

Open hearted

Some people think that God can only be understood by the head; by 'fulfilling commandments' and nothing more. But this is not enough, says Pope Francis.

- Vatican Radio

Tuesday's readings showed 'two groups of people,' Pope Francis said.

In the First Reading, 'there are those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose' following Stephen’s martyrdom.

'They were dispersed with the seed of the Gospel,' the Pope said - 'and they carried it everywhere.'

At first, they only spoke to the Jews. Then , 'almost naturally, some of them' who had come to Antioch, 'began to speak to the Greeks.' And so, slowly, 'they opened the doors to the Greeks, to the pagans...'

'[O]ne thing leads to another,' he said, and they 'end up opening the doors to everyone: to the pagans, who were considered unclean in the mentality of the time, they opened the doors to everyone.'

The second group presented to us in the readings of the day is the 'intellectuals, who came to Jesus in the temple: they are the doctors of the law.'

Jesus, the Pope noted, has always had problems with them, 'because they never arrived at understanding: they always came back to the same point, because they believed that religion was a thing of the mind, of laws.'

They saw it as a question of 'fulfilling the Commandments and nothing more. They cannot even imagine the existence of the Holy Spirit.'

They questioned Jesus , 'they wanted to argue. Everything was about the mind, the intellect.

'These people had no heart,' he added - 'there is no love or beauty, there is no harmony... these people only want explanations: And you give them their explanations and, not convinced, they return with more questions. This is their way: they spin round and round ... As they spun Jesus around throughout his life, until the time that they were able to take him and kill him!

'These people do not open their hearts to the Holy Spirit! They believe that the things of God can be understood only with the head, with ideas, with their own ideas. They are proud. They think they know everything. And what does not fit into their intelligence is not true. You can raise a dead man in front of them, but they do not believe.'

The Pope explained, 'These people had distanced themselves, they did not believe in the people of God, they only believed in their own things, and thus built a whole system of commandments that chased the people away: they chased people away and would not let them come into the Church, the people. They could not believe! This is the sin of resisting the Holy Spirit.'

Read full reflection: Pope at Mass: The danger of a hardened heart (Vatican Radio)

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