(Vatican News) At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis launches a new catechesis series on discernment, and says learning to choose what is best for our lives requires us to have a close relationship with God.
Pope Francis kicked off a new series of catecheses on discernment at the Wednesday General Audience, reflecting on the question: “What does it mean to discern?”
Discernment, he said, is a process which everyone must learn to master in order to live well.
“One chooses food, clothing, a course of study, a job, a relationship,” he said. “In all of these, a life project is realised, and so is our relationship with God.”
Brains, heart, hands
The Pope said Jesus often spoke about discernment by employing images from ordinary life, such as choosing the better fish, or the best pearl, or even knowning what to do when we find a treasure.
“Discernment presents itself as an exercise of intelligence, of skill, and also of will, to seize the opportune moment: these are conditions for making a good choice.”
He added that making the best choice between a set of options also involves our emotions, since a well-made choice can bring us great joy.
Pope Francis said Jesus uses everyday images to describe discernment because the Kingdom of God “manifests itself in the ordinary actions of life, which require us to take a stand.”
“This is why it is so important to be able to discern,” he said, “great choices can arise from circumstances that at first sight seem secondary, but turn out to be decisive.”
Hard work & freedom
Discernment requires several indispensable elements, including “knowledge, experience, emotion, and will.”
“Discernment involves hard work. According to the Bible, we do not find set before us the life we are to live. God invites us to evaluate and choose. He created us free and wants us to exercise our freedom. Therefore, discerning is demanding.”
The Pope noted that most people have had the experience of choosing something we thought was good for us, but which later turned out to be the wrong choice.
Choices & consequences
At the same time, said Pope Francis, many of us have also known what our true good was but did not choose it.
Even in the first pages of the Bible, God gives Adam and Eve a specific instruction on how to live to be happy.
“If you want to live, if you want to enjoy life, remember that you are a creature, that you are not the criterion of good and evil, and that the choices you make will have a consequence, for you, for others and for the world; you can make the earth a magnificent garden or you can make it a desert of death.”
Relationship & love
Pope Francis noted that discernment is “indispensable for living” and requires us to know ourselves and “what is good for me in the here and now.”
“Above all, [discernment] requires a filial relationship with God. God is Father and He does not leave us alone, He is always willing to advise us, to encourage us, to welcome us. But He never imposes His will.”
Finally, the Pope concluded his catechesis at the General Audience by reminding us that God wants us to love Him and not fear Him.
“Love can only be lived in freedom,” he said. “To learn to live one must learn to love, and for this it is necessary to discern.”