Pope at Santa Marta: The authority of Christian identity
(Vatican Radio) A Christian’s authority comes from the Holy Spirit, not from human wisdom or degrees in theology, said Pope Francis at morning Mass Tuesday, as he explained that Christian identity is having the Spirit of Christ, not the “spirit of the world”.
The people were astonished at Christ’s teaching because he spoke with authority. Inspired by the passage from the Gospel Pope dwelt on the nature of Our Lord’s authority and, as a consequence that of the Christian. He said that Jesus was “not a common preacher,” because his “authority” comes from the ‘”special anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus, he said, is “the Son of God, anointed and sent” to “bring salvation, to bring freedom.” And some, he noted, “were scandalized” by this style that belonged to Jesus, by its identity and freedom:
“We too can ask ourselves, what is our identity as Christians? Paul puts it very well today when he says: ‘And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom‘. Paul’s preaching is not the result of a course at the Lateran, or the Gregorian [Pontifical Universities – ed]… No, no, no! Not human wisdom, no! But taught by the Spirit: Paul preached with the anointing of the Spirit, expressing spiritual things of the Spirit in spiritual terms. Man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God by his own strength: Man alone cannot understand this!”.
The Pope continued that this is why “if we Christians do not fully understand the things of the Spirit, if we do not give or offer witness then we have no identity”. For some, he said, “these things of the Spirit are foolishness, they are not able to understand them”. The man moved by the Spirit, however, “judges everything: He is free and cannot be judged by anyone”.
“Now, we have the thought of Christ and that is the Spirit of Christ. This is the Christian identity. Not having the spirit of the world, that way of thinking, that way of judging … You can have five degrees in theology, but not have the Spirit of God! Maybe you’ll be a great theologian, but you are not a Christian because you do not have the Spirit of God! That which gives authority, that which gives identity is the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Holy Spirit”.
Pope Francis said that this is why “the people did not love those preachers, those teachers of the law, because they only spoke of theology, they did not speak to hearts, they gave no freedom”. These, he added, “were unable to help the people find their own identity, because they were not anointed by the Holy Spirit”.
“The authority of Jesus – and the authority of the Christian – comes from this ability to understand the things of the Spirit, to speak the language of the Spirit. It is from this anointing of the Holy Spirit. Often, so often, we find among our faithful, simple old women who perhaps didn’t even finish elementary school, but who can speak to us of things better than any theologian, because they have the Spirit of Christ. Exactly like St. Paul. We all need to ask for this. Lord grant us Christian identity, which You had. Grant us Your Spirit. Grant us Your way of thinking, feeling, speaking: May the Lord grant us the anointing of the Holy Spirit. “