Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 5. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Be open to the Spirit, Who carries us forward

By  Vatican Radio
  • October 6, 2016

True doctrine is not a rigid attachment to the Law, which bewitches like ideologies, but is rather the revelation of God, that allows itself to be discovered more and more fully each day by those who are open to the Holy Spirit. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

The readings of the day speak of the Holy Spirit, the “great gift of the Father,” the power that allows the Church to go forth courageously even to the ends of the earth. The Spirit, Pope Francis said, “is the protagonist of this ‘going forward’ of the Church.” Without the Spirit, the Church would be shut up within itself, fearful.

The Pope pointed out three “attitudes” that we can have with regard to the Spirit. The first is that which Saint Paul rebuked in the Galatians: the belief that one can be justified through the Law, and not by Jesus, “who makes sense of the Law.” And so they were “too rigid.” They are the same kind of people who attack Jesus and who the Lord called hypocrites:

“And this attachment to the Law ignores the Holy Spirit. It does not grant that the redemption of Christ goes forward with the Holy Spirit. It ignores that: there is only the Law. It is true that there are the Commandments and we have to follow the Commandments; but always through the grace of this great gift that the Father has given us, His Son, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. And so the Law is understood. But don’t reduce the Spirit and the Son to the Law. This was the problem of these people: they ignored the Holy Spirit, and they did not know to go forward. Closed, closed in precepts: we have to do this, we have to do that. At times, it can happen that we fall into this temptation.”

The Doctors of the Law, the Pope said, “bewitch with ideas”:

“Because ideologies bewitch; and so Paul begins here: ‘O stupid Galatians, who has bewitched you?’ Those who preach with ideologies: It’s absolutely just! They bewitch: It’s all clear. But look, the revelation is not clear, eh? The revelation of God is discovered more and more each day, it is always on a journey. Is it clear? Yes! It is crystal clear! It is Him, but we have to discover it along the way. And those who believe they have the whole truth in their hands are not [just] ignorant. Paul says more: [you are] ‘stupid’, because you have allowed yourselves to be enchanted.”

The second attitude is making the Holy Spirit sad: it happens “when we do not allow Him to inspire us, to lead us forward in the Christian life,” when “we don’t let Him tell us, not with the theology of the Law, but with the liberty of the Spirit, what we should do.” That, the Pope said, is how “we become lukewarm,” we fall into “Christian mediocrity,” because the Holy Spirit “cannot do great works in us.”

The third attitude, on the other hand, “is to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and let the Spirit carry us forward. That’s what the Apostles did, [with] the courage of the day of Pentecost. They lost their fear and opened themselves to the Holy Spirit.” In order “to understand, to welcome the words of Jesus,” the Pope said, “it is necessary to open oneself to the power of the Holy Spirit.” When a man or a woman opens themself to the Holy Spirit, it is like a sail boat that allows itself to be moved by the wind and goes forward, forward, forward, and never stops.” But this happens when we pray that we might be open to the Holy Spirit:

“We can ask ourselves today, in a moment during the day, ‘Do I ignore the Holy Spirit? And do I know that if I go to Sunday Mass, if I do this, if I do that, is it enough?’ Second, ‘Is my life a kind of half a life, lukewarm, that saddens the Holy Spirit, and doesn’t allow that power in me to carry me forward, to be open?’ Or finally, ‘Is my life a continual prayer to open myself to the Holy Spirit, so that He can carry me forward with the joy of the Gospel and make me understand the teaching of Jesus, the true doctrine, that does not bewitch, that does not make us stupid, but the true [teaching]?’ And it helps us understand where our weaknesses are, those things that sadden Him; and it carries us forward, and also carrying forward the Name of Jesus to others and teaching the path of salvation. May the Lord give us this grace: to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that we will not become stupid, enchanted men and women who make the Spirit sad.”

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