Pope Francis on the refreshing work of the Holy Spirit

The passage below is taken from a homily given by Pope Francis at Pentecost. Here he reflects on the way in which the Holy Spirit brings newness into our lives, which often means discarding old habits and uprooting ourselves from comfortable ways of living. For this work of the Spirit to be accomplished, the Pope emphasises that complete trust in God is needed:

Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own.

Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness – God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved (Gn 6-8); Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand (Gn 12); Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom (Ex 3-14); the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 2).

This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

taken from a homily given at Pentecost, 19th May 2013.

These are wise words indeed, though not easy to put into practice! Many times I have thought about the promises of Scripture regarding the deliverance from fear and anxiety that will come if I only really trust in God, yet that doesn’t make it any easier to take the leap of faith. It is easy enough to believe that we will be rewarded for our perseverance in the next life, but much harder to hear the words of Christ which promise us newness of life, peace and profound joy even amongst sufferings and failure, that ‘there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life‘ (Mark 10:29-30). Amongst the many hard sayings of Jesus, this is, for me one of the hardest to properly take on board! God bless Pope Francis for his continued insistence that we enter into a deep relationship of loving trust with Our Lord, and receive the cleansing, renewing power of his Spirit in our lives.

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One thought on “Pope Francis on the refreshing work of the Holy Spirit

  1. Pingback: The Lion’s World: Rowan Williams, C. S. Lewis and Pope Francis meet | Journey Towards Easter

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