By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Struggling against God is normal because following his way toward redemption always comes with some kind of cross to bear, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.
When feeling hesitant or unwilling, “don’t be afraid,” just plead with God – “Lord, with great strength come to my aid. May your grace conquer the resistance of sin,” he said Dec. 1.
During morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, the pope examined the ways people are resistant to God’s will because of their own sinful nature and the work of the devil.
A “good” kind of resistance, he said, is the kind that is misguided but open to God’s grace of conversion. For example, he said, like Saul, who had believed he was doing God’s will by persecuting Christians, but eventually listened to Jesus and did as he told him.
However, the more dangerous forms of resistance, the pope said, are the kind that are “hidden” and mask people’s real intention of never embarking on the path of conversion or of not going all the way.
Everyone has experienced this kind of resistance, he said. “It’s stopping, it’s not fighting against. No. It’s to stand still; smile, maybe, but you don’t move. To resist passively, in hiding.”
Hiding behind “empty words” is a form of resistance, the pope said. This can be seen in the parable of the two sons sent to work in the vineyard, which showed that those who voice opposition, but eventually do as they are told, will be saved, not the “diplomatic” ones, who say, “Yes, yes,” but never do as they are told.
It’s the spiritual form, he said, of the falsity seen in the Italian novel, The Leopard, when a character pretends to go along with and promote change in order to keep the status quo alive.
Another bad kind of resistance, he said, is marked by constant justification where “there is always a reason to oppose” any change God indicates.
“A Christian has no need to justify himself,” the pope said, because “he has been justified by the Word of God.”
And finally, there is resistance marked by accusing others so you never have to look at yourself, your own sins and need for conversion, he said.
By pretending to not be in need of conversion, the person resists God’s grace, he said, like the Pharisee who thanked God he was so virtuous and not at all like the robbers, adulterers and tax collectors.
It’s important to recognize the resistance in one’s heart – not hide it – but let it melt away so that God’s grace can do its work, the pope said.
Resistance to grace can be a good sign, he said, “because it tells us that the Lord is working in us” and wherever the Lord is, “there will be a cross, big or small.”
“It’s resistance to the cross, the resistance to the Lord that brings us redemption,” when we turn to God for help, he added.
By Carol Glatz