Pope Francis on June 21, 2018, echoed the words of St. Paul, who called on Christians to “walk in the spirit.”
His comments came in an address at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Center in Geneva, a key moment in his one-day pilgrimage to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the WCC.
“We have heard the words addressed by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, who were experiencing conflict and division,” the Holy Father recalled. “Groups were fighting and hurling accusations at one another. It is in this context that the Apostle, twice in the space of a few verses, invites us to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (cf. Gal 5:16.25).”
Pope Francis that human beings are always on the move: walking. Walking is a discipline that takes effort, requiring patience and exercise.
“The metaphor of walking reveals the real meaning of our life, a life that is not self-sufficient but always in search of something greater,” the Pope said. “Our hearts spur us to keep walking, to pursue a goal.”
He explained that for Christians it isn’t enough to be simply moving, but requires the “unavoidable decision” to “walk in the spirit” as Paul suggested. And this means rejecting worldliness.
“Dear brothers and sisters, today more than ever the words of the Apostle Paul challenge us. Walking in the Spirit means rejecting worldliness,” Francis stressed. “It means opting for a mindset of service and growing in forgiveness. It means playing our part in history but in God’s good time, not letting ourselves be caught up in the whirlwind of corruption but advancing calmly on the way whose signpost is the ‘one commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’’ (v. 14). The path of the Spirit is marked by the milestones that Paul sets forth: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”’(v. 22).”
The Pope admitted that this approach might cause the faithful to “operated at a loss” in material terms. But he recalled the world of Christ: “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Lk 9:24).
“To save only what is ours is to walk according to the flesh; to lose everything in the footsteps of Jesus is to walk in the Spirit. Only in this way does the Lord’s vineyard bear fruit,” the Pope contended. “There is only one way to shore up our wavering footsteps: to walk in the Spirit, purifying our hearts of evil, choosing with holy tenacity the way of the Gospel and rejecting the shortcuts offered by this world.”