THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON POPE FRANCIS
ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
Here is a very important homily of Pope Francis on the Holy
Spirit. We rely on the Spirit for our work of evangelization.
We claim to be empowered by the Spirit. But are we truly living
a life in the Spirit? We do well to read this prayerfully,
to meditate on it, to internalize it, and to strive to live
Pope Francis' Homily at the Cathedral
of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul
diversity of members and charisms is harmonized in the Spirit
of Christ, whom the Father sent and whom he continues to send,
in order to achieve unity among believers."
(Here is the Vatican-provided translation of the Pope's homily
at the celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
In the Gospel, Jesus shows himself to be the font from which
those who thirst for salvation draw upon, as the Rock from
whom the Father brings forth living waters for all who believe
in him (cf. Jn 7:38). In openly proclaiming this
prophecy in Jerusalem, Jesus heralds the gift of the Holy
Spirit whom the disciples will receive after his glorification,
that is, after his death and resurrection (cf. v. 39).
The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. He gives life,
he brings forth different charisms which enrich the
people of God and, above all, he creates unity among
believers: from the many he makes one body, the Body of Christ.
The Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy
Spirit; he fulfills all things.
The profession of faith itself, as Saint Paul reminds us in
today’s first reading, is only possible because it is
prompted by the Holy Spirit: "No one can say ‘Jesus
is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor
12:3b). When we pray, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires
prayer in our heart. When we break the cycle of our self-centeredness,
and move beyond ourselves and go out to encounter others,
to listen to them and help them, it is the Spirit of God who
impels us to do so. When we find within a hitherto unknown
ability to forgive, to love someone who doesn’t love
us in return, it is the Spirit who has taken hold of us. When
we move beyond mere self-serving words and turn to our brothers
and sisters with that tenderness which warms the heart, we
have indeed been touched by the Holy Spirit.
It is true that the Holy Spirit brings forth different
charisms in the Church, which at first glance, may seem
to create disorder. Under his guidance, however, they constitute
an immense richness, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit
of unity, which is not the same thing as uniformity. Only
the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity
and, at the same time, bring about unity. When we
try to create diversity, but are closed within our own particular
and exclusive ways of seeing things, we create division. When
we try to create unity through our own human designs, we end
up with uniformity and homogenization. If we let ourselves
be led by the Spirit, however, richness, variety and diversity
will never create conflict, because the Spirit spurs us to
experience variety in the communion of the Church.
The diversity of members and charisms is harmonized in the
Spirit of Christ, whom the Father sent and whom he continues
to send, in order to achieve unity among believers.
The Holy Spirit brings unity to the Church: unity in faith,
unity in love, unity in interior life. The Church and other
Churches and ecclesial communities are called to let themselves
be guided by the Holy Spirit, and to remain always open, docile
Ours is a hopeful perspective, but one which is also demanding.
The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit,
because he takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles
us; he makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is
always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary
and unchanging ways. In truth, the Church shows her fidelity
to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control
or tame him. We Christians become true missionary disciples,
able to challenge consciences, when we throw off our defensiveness
and allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit. He is freshness,
imagination and newness.
Our defensiveness is evident when we are entrenched within
our ideas and our own strengths – in which case we slip
into Pelagianism – or when we are ambitious or vain.
These defensive mechanisms prevent us from truly understanding
other people and from opening ourselves to a sincere dialogue
with them. But the Church, flowing from Pentecost, is given
the fire of the Holy Spirit, which does not so much fill the
mind with ideas, but enflames the heart; she is moved by the
breath of the Spirit which does not transmit a power, but
rather an ability to serve in love, a language which everyone
is able to understand.
In our journey of faith and fraternal living, the more we
allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord,
the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and
disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace.
With this joyful conviction, I embrace all of you, dear brothers
and sisters: the Syro-Catholic Patriarch, the President of
the Bishops’ Conference, the Apostolic Vicar Monsignor
Pelâtre, the Bishops and Eparchs, the priests and deacons,
religious, lay faithful, and believers from other communities
and various rites of the Catholic Church. I wish to greet
with fraternal affection the Patriarch of Constantinople,
His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan
and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchal Vicar, as well as the
representatives of the Protestant communities, who have joined
us in prayer for this celebration. I extend to them my gratitude
for this fraternal gesture. I wish also to express my affection
to the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Mesrob II, assuring
him of my prayers.
Brothers and sisters, let us turn our thoughts to the Virgin
Mary, Mother of God. With her, who prayed with the Apostles
in the Upper Room as they awaited Pentecost, let us pray to
the Lord asking him to send his Holy Spirit into our hearts
and to make us witnesses of his Gospel in all the world. Amen!
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