VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God made people free so they can fearlessly adapt to the changing times while remaining true to Christ, Pope Francis said in his morning homily.

“Times change and we Christians have to continuously change. We have to change firm in faith in Jesus Christ, firm in the truth of the Gospel,” he said at Mass celebrated in the chapel of his residence Oct. 23.

God’s gift of freedom means people must not be afraid to use it. Otherwise, they risk just going along with the crowd or doing nothing, he said.

People shouldn’t bend to external influence and pressure with excuses like: “‘They told me … I heard … People say … I read …’ That way we are on the safe side. But what is the truth? What is the message the Lord wants to give me with this sign of the times?”

God wants people to observe and evaluate what changes are unfolding in the world, the pope said, and to change with them without letting go of Christ.

It’s not easy to know what God wants when there is so much outside influence, he said, which is why silence and prayer are essential.

“We have to open ourselves up to the power of the Spirit and understand well what is happening inside of us and outside of us” through discernment, he said.

“In order to understand the signs of the times, first of all silence is necessary: be quiet and observe. And then reflect,” he said.

The pope said reading the signs of the times isn’t a skill exclusive to “a cultural elite,” but a gift of freedom God gives to everyone.

“Remember, Jesus doesn’t say, ‘Look at how the academics do it, look at how the doctors do it, look how the intellectuals do it.'”

Rather, Jesus talks about how harvesters, in their simplicity, know how to distinguish wheat from the weeds, he said.

“We are free because of the gift of freedom that Jesus Christ gave us. But our job is to look at what happens inside of us, discern our feelings, our thoughts; and what happens outside of us and discern the signs of the times with silence, with reflection and with prayer,” he said.