We are in Need of a New Heart, Inhabited by the Holy Spirit

by Pope Francis

Descriptive Title

Pope Francis General Audience Address of November 28, 2018


The Ten Commandments – combined with Christ – bring to Christians a “liberated life.” That was at the core of Pope Francis’ catechesis at his November 28, 2018, General Audience in Paul VI Hall. The talk concluded his series on the Ten Commandments and included a strong reminder that they are tools to free the believer, not condemn.

Publisher & Date

Vatican, November 28, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In today’s catechesis, which concludes the course on the Ten Commandments, we can use as the key theme that of desires, which enables us to go over the journey made and summarize the stages accomplished reading the Decalogue’s text, always in the light of the full revelation in Christ.

We began with gratitude as the basis of the relationship of trust and obedience: we saw that God does not ask for anything before having given much more. He invites us to obedience to rescue us from the deceit of the idolatries that have so much power over us. In fact, to seek one’s fulfillment in the idols of this world empties us and enslaves us, whereas what gives stature and consistency is the relationship with Him, who renders us children in Christ beginning by His paternity (Cf. Ephesians 3: 14-16). This implies a process of blessing and liberation, which is true, genuine rest. As the Psalm says: “For God alone, my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation” (Psalm 62:2).

This liberated life becomes the acceptance of our personal story and reconciles us with what we have lived from childhood to the present, making us adults and capable of giving the right weight to the realities and persons of our life. By this path, we enter in the relationship with our neighbor that, beginning from the love that God shows in Jesus Christ, is a call to the beauty of fidelity, of generosity and of authenticity.

However, to live thus — namely in the beauty of fidelity, of generosity and of authenticity — we are in need of a new heart, inhabited by the Holy Spirit (Cf. Ezekiel 11: 19; 36:26)). I ask myself: how does this “transplant” of the heart happen, from the old heart to the new heart? It happens through the gift of new desires (Cf. Romans 8:6); which are sown in us by the grace of God, particularly through the Ten Commandments, brought to fulfillment by Jesus, as He teaches in the “discourse of the mountain” (Cf. Matthew 5:17-48). In fact, in the contemplation of the life described by the Decalogue, which is a grateful, free, genuine, benedictory, adult existence, custodian and lover of life, faithful, generous and sincere we, find ourselves, almost without realizing it, before Christ. The Decalogue is His “X-ray,” He describes it as a photographic negative that lets His face appear — as in the Holy Shroud. And so the Holy Spirit fertilizes our heart, putting in it desires that are a gift of His, desires of the Spirit. To desire according to the Spirit, to desire to the rhythm of the Spirit, to desire with the music of the Spirit. Looking at Christ we see the beauty, the good, the truth. And the Spirit generates a life that, seconding these desires of His, triggers in us hope, faith and love.

So we discover better what it means that the Lord Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law but to bring it to fulfillment, to make it grow, and whereas the Law according to the flesh was a series of prescriptions and prohibitions, according to the Spirit this same Law becomes life (Cf. John 6:63; Ephesians 2:15), because it’s no longer a norm but the very flesh of Christ, who loves us, seeks us, forgives us, consoles us and, in His Body, recomposes communion with the Father, lost by the disobedience of sin. And thus the literal negativity, the negativity in the expression of the Commandments — “do not steal,” “do not insult,” “do not kill” — that “not” is transformed into a positive attitude: to love, to make room in my heart for others, all desires that sow positivity. And this is the fullness of the Law that Jesus came to bring us.

In Christ, and only in Him, the Decalogue stops being condemnation (Cf. Romans 8:1) and becomes the authentic truth of human life, namely, desire of love — born here is the desire of the good, to do good — desire of joy, desire of peace, of magnanimity, of benevolence, of goodness, of fidelity, of meekness, of self-mastery. From that “no” one passes to this “yes”: the positive attitude of a heart that opens with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

See why it is useful to seek Christ in the Decalogue: to fertilize our heart so that it’s fraught with love, and opens itself to God’s work. When man seconds the desire to live according to Christ, then he is opening the door to salvation, which cannot but arrive, because God the Father is generous and, as the Catechism says, “God thirsts that we may thirst for Him” (n. 2560).

If there are evil desires that ruin man (Cf. Matthew 15:18-20), the Spirit deposits in our heart His holy desires, which are the germ of the new life (Cf. 1 John 3:9). The new life, in fact, isn’t a titanic effort to be consistent with a norm, but the new life is the Spirit of God Himself who begins to guide us to its fruits, in a happy synergy between our joy of being loved and His joy of loving us. The two joys meet: God’s joy in loving us and our joy in being loved. See what the Decalogue is for us Christians: to contemplate Christ to open ourselves to receive His heart, to receive His desires, to receive His Holy Spirit.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2018

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