(NCR) — Pope Benedict XVI says that God’s law brings personal liberation to each person who embraces it and lives it with integrity.
“God’s law is his word, which guides man on the path of life, releases him from the slavery of selfishness and introduces him to the ‘land’ of true freedom and life,” the Pope said during his midday Sept. 2 Angelus address.
“For this reason, in the Bible, the Law is not seen as a burden, an overwhelming limitation, but as the Lord’s most precious gift, the testimony of his fatherly love, of his desire to be close to his people, to be their ally and write with his people a love story.”
The Pope made his remarks before several thousand pilgrims who gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. The picturesque town sits in the hills above Lake Albano, 15 miles southeast of Rome.
But the Pope also warned against the danger of God’s law and religion losing their “true meaning” and become reduced to “a secondary habit.” The real meaning of following God’s law is “to live in listening to God.”
As an example, the Pope pointed towards the Gospel, where Jesus adopted the words of the prophet Isaiah to describe the relationship of the scribes and Pharisees to God. “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.” Jesus summarized their disposition by saying, “You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition.”
“This is a serious risk in every religion,” Pope Benedict explained, “which Jesus encountered in his time, but that may occur, unfortunately, even in Christianity.”
Summarizing his thoughts in his address to English-speaking pilgrims, the Pope said that this Gospel “spurs all of us to a greater harmony between the faith we treasure in our hearts and our outward behavior.”
“By God’s grace, may we be purified inside and out, so as to live integrally our commitment to Christ and to his message. God bless all of you!”