God always surprises us, because He is loving and accompanies us.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis stressed this today, May 8, 2017, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta,
The Pope’s homily focused on the episode of the Acts of the Apostles where St. Peter confronts the first Christian community regarding being open to pagans who joined the Church.
God of Surprises
Reflecting on it, the Pope stressed that Holy Spirit always moves the Church and the Christian community, urging therefore to not resist the Spirit and be open to God’s surprises.
The Holy Spirit, the Holy Father reminded, works miracles and creates new things, but that “obviously, some feared these novelties of the Church.”
“The Spirit is the gift of God, of this God, our Father who always surprises us,” the Pope said.
“The God of surprises… Why?” Francis asked. “Because He is a living God, who dwells in us, a God who moves our hearts, a God who is in the Church and walks with us and in this journey He surprises us. It is He, He, who has the creativity to create the world, the creativity to create new things every day.”
“He is the God who surprises us,” he said.
Don’t Resist the Spirit
This, the Pope explained, can create “difficulties” like those that Peter faced when he was challenged by other disciples because they knew that “even pagans had welcomed the Word of God.”
For them, Peter had gone too far and they reprimanded him because according to them he was “scandalous” even to the point of saying, “You, Peter, the rock of the Church! Where are you leading us to?”
The Pope then urged those present not to resist the Holy Spirit, saying “it’s always done this way.” He recalled that Peter narrated his vision as a sign from God, and this helped him to “take a courageous decision” and welcome God’s surprise. Faced with God’s many surprises, Francis noted the disciples came together, discussed and agreed on matters “in order to take a step ahead that the Lord wanted.”
“From the times of the prophets until now, the sin to resist the Holy Spirit had always been there: this resistance to the Spirit. This is the sin with which Stephen accuses the members of the Sanhedrin: ‘You and your fathers have always resisted the Holy Spirit.’ No, it has always been done this way, and must be done so.”
“They tell Peter,” Francis said, “not to bring this ‘newness,’ to remain calm… take a tranquilizer and calm the nerves… be calm … so the voice of God is shut [off],” Francis continued, saying, “In the psalm the Lord speaks to the people: ‘Do not harden your hearts like your fathers.’”
Francis invited faithful to ask for the grace of discernment to distinguish between good and evil.
No Hardening of Hearts
Recalling today’s Gospel speaks of the Good Shepherd, Francis noted that the Lord always asks us not to harden our hearts.
“The phrase, ‘It is has always been done like this’ shuts [out] and resists the Holy Spirit, and this kills freedom, kills joy, kills fidelity to the Holy Spirit who always acts in advance and carries the Church forward. But then the question – how can I know if it is from the Holy Spirit or from worldliness, the spirit of the world or spirit of the devil?”
For this, Pope Francis said, one needs to ask for the grace of discernment, namely “the tool that the very Sprit has granted us.”
“How should one discern in every occasion? The answer, the Pope said, is the way the Apostles did it: they came together, talked and saw the path of the Holy Spirit. Instead, those without this grace or those who did not pray for it remained closed and still.”
Christians, Pope Francis urged, must “learn how to discern, discern one thing from another, discern newness, the new wine that comes from God and the newness that comes from the spirit of the world and the devil.”
Faith Never Changes, But Broadens
“Faith,” he stressed, “never changes.”
“It’s always the same. But it broadens and grows into a movement.”
Francis recalled the words of St. Vincent of Lerins, a monk of the early centuries: “The truths of the Church forge ahead: they are strengthened with years, develop with time, become profound with age, and they grow stronger with time and years and broaden with time and they become more prominent with the age of the Church.”
Pope Francis concluded, urging those present to ask “for the grace of discernment in order not to mistake the path and be trapped in immobility, rigidity and closing in of the heart.”