Jesus' steadfast decision to set out on the path to Jerusalem, his final destination and the place where He fulfilled His mission of salvation, and His freedom of conscience were the themes of the Pope's final Angelus in the month of June, prayed with tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
“From that time forth after His steadfast decision, Jesus aims straight for the finish line, and even to the people he meets and who ask to follow Him, He clearly states the conditions: not having a permanent abode; knowing how to detach oneself from familiar affections; not succumbing to nostalgia for the past. But Jesus also said to his disciples, charged with preceding Him on the way to Jerusalem to announce His coming, not to impose anything: if they do not find willing welcome, they are simply to continue, to move on. Jesus never imposes” Pope Francis emphasized. “Jesus is humble. Jesus extends invitations: 'If you want, come'. The humility of Jesus is like this: He always invites us. He does not impose”.
“All this makes us think … of the importance, even for Jesus, of conscience: listening in his heart to the Father's voice, and following it. Jesus, in his earthly life, was not, so to speak, 'remote-controlled': He was the Word made flesh, the Son of God made man, and at one point he made a firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time - a decision taken in His conscience, but not on His own: ??with the Father, in full union with Him! ... For this reason, then, the decision was steadfast: because it was taken together with the Father. In the Father, then, Jesus found the strength and the light for His journey. Jesus was free. His decision was a free one. Jesus wants us Christians to be free as he is: with that liberty, which comes from this dialogue with the Father ... Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will: 'remote-controlled' Christians, incapable of creativity, who seek always to connect with the will of another ... Jesus wants us free, and this freedom – where is it found? It is to be found in the inner dialogue with God in conscience. If a Christian … does not know how to listen to God, in his own conscience, then he is not free – he is not free”.
“So we also must learn to listen more to our conscience. Be careful, however: this does not mean we ought to follow our ego, do whatever interests us, whatever suits us, whatever pleases us. That is not conscience. Conscience is the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God. It is the inner place of our relationship with Him, who speaks to our heart and helps us to discern, to understand the path we ought to take, and once the decision is made, to move forward, to remain faithful”.
Pope Francis highlighted a wonderful example of how this relationship with God in one's own conscience may be: Pope Benedict XVI, “when the Lord showed him in prayer the step he had to take, followed his conscience with a great sense of discernment and courage; that is, he followed the will of God that spoke to his heart”. This example “is of benefit to all of us, as an example to follow”.
“May Mary help us to become more and more men and women of conscience, free in our conscience … able to hear the voice of God and follow it with decision” concluded the Pope.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father remarked that today in Italy we celebrate the Day of charity of the Pope, and he thanked the bishops and all the parishes, especially the poorest, for the prayers and offerings that support the many pastoral initiatives and charitable activities of the Successor of Peter in every part of the world.