Pope Francis: Freedom is Found in Offering to God What is Hardest to Give Up

General audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 7, 2022 | Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Pope Francis spoke Wednesday about how freeing it can be to let go of the things that we are most attached to in life and place them in God’s “benevolent hands.”

In his general audience on Dec. 7, the pope said that in the face of rejection, when things do not go our way, it is good to remember that “only God knows what is truly good for us.”

Sometimes there can be a lesson from the Lord in a denial of what we want, the pope explained, adding: “This is not because he wants to deprive us of what we hold dear, but in order to live it with freedom, without attachment.”

“We can only love in freedom, which is why the Lord created us free, free even to say no to him,” Pope Francis said.

“Offering to him what we hold most dear is in our best interest. It allows us to live it in the best possible way and in truth, as a gift he has given us, as a sign of his gratuitous goodness, knowing that our lives, as well as the whole of history, are in his benevolent hands.”


General audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican's audience hall, Dec. 7, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

The pope pointed to the example of St. Paul, who wrote: “In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12–13).

Pope Francis underlined that in life, “we cannot control or predict” the future, our health, or what will happen to our loved ones. 

“What matters is that our trust is placed in the Lord of the universe, who loves us immensely and knows that we can build with him something wonderful, something eternal,” he said. “The lives of the saints show us this in the most beautiful way.”

In his weekly series of reflections on spiritual discernment, Pope Francis spoke about detachment and trust in God in his 11th catechesis.

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General audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Dec. 7, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

The pope noted that good decisions are not born out of fear, compulsion, or “emotional blackmail” but are made out of gratitude to God. 

He said that good choices could benefit all areas of our lives because they are “participation in God’s creativity.

“For example, if I make the decision to devote an extra half hour to prayer, and then I find that I live the other moments of the day better, that I am more serene, less anxious, I do my work with more care and zest, that even relations with some difficult people become smoother.”

Before the start of the general audience, the pope greeted Italian actor and comedian Roberto Benigni with a smile and a hug. 


Pope Francis meeting with Roberto Benigni, Dec. 7, 2022. Vatican Media

Also present at the audience was Andril Sadovy, the mayor of Lviv, Ukraine, who came to the Vatican with a delegation from the Unbroken Center, which provides prostheses for war victims.

The pope delivered his weekly spiritual reflection while seated near a Nativity scene recently set up inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in preparation for Christmas. 

Pope Francis visiting this year's nativity scene on St. Peter's Square, Dec. 7, 2022. Vatican Media

The pope also made a quick trip after the audience by car to visit the wooden Nativity scene set up in St. Peter’s Square. 

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In his greeting to English-speaking pilgrims, the pope thanked Catholics who traveled from Australia, India, Singapore, and the United States to be present at the audience.

He said: “I pray that each of you and your families may experience a blessed Advent in preparation for the coming at Christmas of the newborn Jesus, Son of God and Savior of the world.”

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.