VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Do not be afraid to change and let go of obsolete structures, Pope Francis said, because Jesus has brought new wine that needs fresh wineskins.

“The Gospel is newness. The Gospel is celebration. And one can live the Gospel fully only with a joyous and renewed heart,” he said in a homily Sept. 5. Among those invited to the morning Mass were parishioners of the Paulist-run American parish in Rome, the Church of Santa Susanna.

The pope’s homily centered on the day’s Gospel reading in which the scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus about his disciples not following laws concerning fasting.


Jesus answered, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” He continued with a parable underlining the need to use new vessels or wineskins to hold new wine — a new message of renewed life.

Pope Francis said Jesus brought a new freedom in which the Christian is not “the slave to many tiny laws,” but follows with an open heart a new commandment of love and the rules of the beatitudes.

The Pharisees and scribes created “small laws” that they were custodians of but also prisoners, he said during an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“This law by these people wasn’t bad,” he said; the people were just imprisoned, “in wait for the faith to come,” the faith, the “definitive freedom” that was revealed in Jesus Christ.

“The newness of the Gospel is that — it is to redeem (us) from the law,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

“Now one of you could tell me: ‘But father, don’t Christians have laws?’ Yes! Jesus said: ‘I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it'” through “the beatitudes, the law of love, total love, like he, Jesus, loved us.”

This “is the newness of the Gospel, it is celebration, joy and freedom,” he said.

Jesus’ parable of new wineskins for new wine means “to not be afraid of changing things according to the law of the Gospel.”

“That’s why the church asks us, all of us, for some changes. It asks us to leave behind temporary structures: They’re not needed. Take up fresh wineskins, those of the Gospel.”

Christians today observe “the law that Jesus brought to its fulfillment, in the commandment of love” and following the beatitudes.