"Sadness is not a Christian attitude." Pope Francis said during Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. Reflecting on the day's Gospel , he said it is possible to overcome the difficulties of life with the support and closeness of the Holy Spirit.
Commenting on Jesus' words to the disciples before going to Heaven, the Pope said He gives us a true catechesis on the Holy Spirit.
The disciples were sad to hear that their Master was soon leaving them, but Jesus tells them: 'although grief has filled your hearts ... it is better for you that I go."
"How can one not be sad?" the Pope said - but "to counter sadness, we pray to the Lord to keep the renewed youth of the spirit within us". It is the Holy Spirit who ensures that we continue to be renewed and youthful in our faith.
The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis explained, gives us the capacity to carry our crosses. He reflected on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles that tells of how Paul and Silas, who had been stripped, beaten, chained and imprisoned, sang hymns to God.
The Holy Spirit, he said, renews everything. The Holy Spirit accompanies us in life and sustains us. And calling the Spirit the 'Paraclete', the Pope explained the meaning of this "strange" word - which - he said, refers to "He who is near me and supports me so that I don't fall, so I keep my spirit youthful."
"A Christian is always young," the Pope continued, and when the heart of a Christian begins to age, so does his Christian vocation.
"Either you are young in heart and soul, or you are not fully Christian" he said.
The Pope said that there is sorrow and pain in all of our lives, but he highlighted the example of Paul and Silas who were beaten and were suffering, and yet, he said "they were full of joy, they sang…"
He explained that this is where the "youthful" part comes in, as youth looks ahead with hope. But to be able to have this youthful attitude, he added, we need a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, who is always with us.
"It is the great gift that Jesus left us: this support, which allows us to go forward" he said.
Pope Francis concluded his homily with words of encouragement and hope saying that even if we are sinners, the Spirit helps us to repent and look ahead: "speak to the Spirit who will give you support and restore your youthfulness."
Sin, on the other hand, he said ages one: "the soul ages, everything ages."
In life there are difficult moments, but in these moments "we feel that the Spirit helps us to move forward (...) and to overcome difficulties. Even martyrdom," he said.
"Let us ask the Lord not to lose this renewed youthfulness, not to be Christians who have retired and have lost their joy," he said: "a Christian never retires, a Christian lives because he is young - when he is a true Christian."
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