Pope Francis speaking to a large crowd on the place of the Commandments in our relationship with God said:
“Christian life is first and foremost a freely given response to a generous Father. For Christians who follow only their “duties” something is missing! What is the foundation of this duty? The foundation of this duty is the love of God the Father, who first gives, then commands. To place the law before the relationship does not help the path of faith. How can a young person wish to be Christian, if we start out from obligations, commitments, consistency and not from liberation? But to be Christian is a journey of liberation! The commandments free you from your selfishness and they free you because there is the love of God that carries you forward. Christian formation is not based on the strength of will, but on the acceptance of salvation, of allowing oneself to be loved: first the Red Sea, then Mount Sinai. First salvation: God saves His people in the Red Sea; then on Sinai tells them what they must do. But the people know that they must do these things because they have been saved by a Father Who loves them.
“Gratitude is a characteristic trait of the heart visited by the Holy Spirit; to obey God one must first remember the benefits. As Saint Basil says, “Those who do not let those benefits fall into oblivion, are oriented towards good virtue and towards every work of justice”. Where does all this lead us? To perform a memory test: how many beautiful things has God done for each one of us! How generous is our heavenly Father? I would now like to propose a little exercise to you, in silence: each person answer in his or her own heart. How many beautiful things has God done for me? This is the question. In silence, each one of us, answers. How many beautiful things has God done for me? And this is God’s liberation. God does many beautiful things and frees us.
Quoting Pope Benedict, he continued; “The love-story between God and us consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide: God’s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself. Then self-abandonment to God increases and God becomes our joy”