Catechesis on the Commandments. 3: God's love precedes the law and gives it meaning
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today, this hearing will take place as last Wednesday. In Paul VI Hall there are many sick people and to keep them warm, because they are more comfortable, they are there. But they will follow the audience with the big screen and, even we with them, that is, there are not two hearings. There is only one. We salute the sick of the Paul VI Hall. And let us continue to speak of the commandments that, as we have said, more than commandments are the words of God to his people to walk well; loving words of a Father. The Ten Words begin like this: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the servile condition" (Exodus 20: 2). This beginning would seem extraneous to the actual laws that follow. But is not so.
Why this proclamation that God makes of himself and of liberation? Because you get to Mount Sinai after crossing the Red Sea: the God of Israel first saves, then asks for trust.  That is: the Decalogue begins with the generosity of God. God never asks without giving first. Never. First save, first give, then ask. This is our Father, good God.
And we understand the importance of the first declaration: "I am the Lord your God". There is a possessive, there is a relationship, one belongs to one. God is not a stranger: he is your God.  This enlightens the whole Decalogue and also reveals the secret of Christian action, because it is the same attitude of Jesus who says: "As the Father has loved me, I have loved you" (Jn 15: 9). Christ is loved by the Father and loves us with that love. He does not start from himself but from the Father. Often our works fail because we start from ourselves and not from gratitude. And who starts from himself, where does he arrive? Get to himself! He is incapable of making his way back on himself. It is precisely that selfish attitude that, joking, people say: "That person is an I, me with me, and for me". He comes out of himself and returns to himself.
The Christian life is above all the grateful response to a generous Father. Christians who follow only "duties" report that they do not have a personal experience of that God who is "our". I have to do this, this, this ... Only duties. But you're missing something! What is the foundation of this duty? The foundation of this duty is the love of God the Father, who first gives, then commands. Putting the law before the relationship does not help the journey of faith. How can a young person desire to be a Christian, if we start from obligations, commitments, coherences and not from liberation? But being a Christian is a journey of liberation! The commandments free you from your selfishness and free you because there is the love of God that carries you forward. Christian formation is not based on willpower, but on the acceptance of salvation, on letting oneself be loved: first the Red Sea, then Mount Sinai. Salvation first: God saves his people in the Red Sea; then in Sinai he tells him what he must do. But that people know that these things are done because they have been saved by a Father who loves him.
Gratitude is a characteristic trait of the heart visited by the Holy Spirit; to obey God we must first remember his benefits. Saint Basil says: "Whoever does not let those benefits fall into oblivion, is oriented towards good virtue and to every work of justice" (Short Rules, 56). Where does all this bring us? To exercise memory:  how many beautiful things God has done for each of us! How generous is our Heavenly Father! Now I would like to offer you a little exercise, in silence, everyone answers in his heart. How many beautiful things did God do for me? This is the question. In silence, each of us answers. How many beautiful things did God do for me? And this is the liberation of God. God does many beautiful things and frees us.
Yet someone can feel that he has not yet made a true experience of the liberation of God. This can happen. It could be that one looks inward and finds only a sense of duty, a spirituality as servants and not as children. What to do in this case? As did the chosen people. The Book of Exodus says: "The Israelites groaned for their slavery, they cried out wailing and their cry from slavery ascended to God. God listened to their lament, God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked at the condition of the Israelites, God gave thought "(Ex 2,23-25). God thinks of me.
The liberating action of God placed at the beginning of the Decalogue - that is, of the commandments - is the answer to this lamentation. We do not save ourselves, but from us can cry out for help: "Lord save me, Lord teach me the way, Lord caress me, Lord give me a little joy". This is a cry asking for help. This is up to us: to ask to be freed from selfishness, from sin, from the chains of slavery. This cry is important, it is prayer, it is consciousness of what is still oppressed and not liberated in us.