In his first appearance in St. Peter’s Square since the canonization of two saints this weekend, Pope Francis used today’s general audience to deliver his catechesis on the second gift of the Holy Spirit.
After discussing the gift of wisdom in the first catechesis of this new series, this week he turned to the Spirit’s gift of understanding.
“So we can all understand things as God understands them, with God’s understanding,” is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit, said Francis. “It is a beautiful gift that the Lord has given all of us. It is the gift with which the Holy Spirit introduces us into intimacy with God and renders us participants in his plan of love for us.”
Turning to what the Holy Spirit does, the Pontiff said, “He opens our mind, he opens us to understand better, to understand better the things of God, human things, situations, everything.”
Clarifying understanding’s meaning, he said: “It is not about human understanding, about an intellectual capacity with which we can be more or less gifted.” Rather, “it is a grace which only the Holy Spirit can infuse, and which arouses in the Christian the ability to go beyond the external aspect of reality and scrutinize the depth of God’s thought.”
Discussing its effects, Pope Francis said that the community of Corinth knew well what this gift “does in us.” Paul had explained to them: “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him, God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).’”
Francis said “obviously” this “does not mean that a Christian can understand everything and have full knowledge of God’s plans: all this remains to be manifested.”
Noting that it’s “ok” to understand a situation with human understanding, with prudence, he stressed that to understand a situation in depth, how God does, is an effect of the grace of understanding, which is “closely connected to faith.”
The Pope added, “When the Holy Spirit dwells in our heart and illumines our mind, He makes us grow day after day in understanding what the Lord has said and has fulfilled.”
Addressing the English-speaking present, he invited them to implore the gift of understanding, as it will create a “new light, with fresh spiritual insight,” and through it “the Holy Spirit dispels the darkness of our minds and hearts, strengthens us in faith and enables us to savor the richness of God’s word and its promise of salvation.”
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