Pope Francis warned against Christian mediocrity, lukewarmness, and rigidity, during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta today, and has called for faithful to embrace the Spirit to help the Church go forward, reported Vatican Radio.
The Jesuit Pontiff drew his inspiration from the readings of the day which speak of the Holy Spirit, the “great gift of the Father” and “the protagonist of this ‘going forward’ of the Church.” Without the Spirit, Francis warned, the Church would be “shut up within itself” and “fearful.”
In this morning’s homily, the Pope pointed out three attitudes that faithful can have with regard to the Spirit.
The first attitude, the Pontiff stressed, is the belief that one can be justified through the Law, and not by Jesus, “who makes sense of the Law,” those, he specified, who Saint Paul rebuked in the Galatians.
The Pope pointed out that these people were “too rigid,” and 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,” Francis warned, noting, “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.”
Bewitching With Ideas
The Doctors of the Law, the Pope went on to say, “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?” he asked. “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 bewitched.”
The second attitude, the Pope said, is grieving the Holy Spirit. He explained that this 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.”
When this happens, the Pope suggested, we “become lukewarm,” fall into “Christian mediocrity,” because the Holy Spirit can no longer perform great works in us.
The third attitude, Francis said, on the other hand, is what we should embrace, namely “opening 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 and welcome the words of Jesus, the Pope said, “it is necessary to open oneself to the power of the Holy Spirit.”
When someone opens oneself to the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, “it is like a sail boat that allows itself to be moved by the wind and goes forward, forward, forward, and never stops.”
The Pope stressed that this occurs when we pray that we might be open to the Holy Spirit, and then encouraged faithful today to ask themselves some questions:
- ‘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]?’
Asking these questions, the Pope explained, 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.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May the Lord give us this grace: to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so that we will not become stupid, bewitched men and women who grieve the Holy Spirit.”