Source: Vatican News
Pope Francis celebrated his first morning Mass of the new year at Casa Santa Marta today (7 January). In his homily he reflected on the first reading, the passage from the first letter of St John the Apostle, in which the evangelist takes up the advice of Jesus to his disciples: "Remain in God."
The Christian life is to remain in God, following the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the world, which leads to corruption, and does not distinguish good from evil, Pope Francis said.
One can be in the most sinful cities, in the most atheistic societies, but if one's heart remains in God this man and this woman bring salvation, the Holy Father said. He then recalled the episode in the Acts of the Apostles, who arrive in a city and meet Christians baptized by John. They ask them: "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" but they didn't even know he was there.
Pope Francis said many Christians, even today, only think about the Holy Spirit as a dove - and don't realise that it is the Spirit which which is the guarantee, which gives you the strength, to remain in the Lord.
The Holy Father then spoke of the spirit of the world, which is contrary to the Holy Spirit. "Jesus, at the Last Supper does not ask the Father to remove the disciples from the world," because Christian life is in the world, but he asks to protect them from the spirit of the world, which is the opposite. The spirit of the world is an atmosphere that renders you unconscious, leads you to a point where you do not know how to recognize good from evil."
Instead, to remain in God, "we must ask for this gift" of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee. From this "we know that we remain in the Lord," the Pope said.
How can we know, Pope Francis asked, if we have the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the world? Saint Paul, he explained, gives us this advice: "Do not sadden the Holy Spirit. When we go towards the spirit of the world we upset the Holy Spirit and ignore him, we cast him aside and our life goes another way."
The spirit of the world, the Pope added, is forgetting, because "sin does not turn you away from God if you realize it and ask forgiveness, but the spirit of the world makes you forget what sin is" everything is permissible. Then he said, that in these days a priest showed him a film of Christians celebrating the New Year in a tourist city, in a Christian country.
They celebrated the New Year with a terrible worldliness, wasting money and many things. The spirit of the world. "Is this a sin?" - "No dear: this is corruption, worse than sin." The Holy Spirit leads you to God, and if you sin, the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you to rise up, but the spirit of the world leads you to corruption, to the point that you do not know what is good and what is evil: everything is the same.
Pope Francis recalled an Argentinean song that says: "Go, go, go... everything is the same that down there in the oven we will meet." The spirit of the world, he commented, leads you to the unconsciousness "of not distinguishing sin." And how do I know, the Pontiff asked, if "I am on the road to worldliness, to the spirit of the world, or if am I following the Spirit of God?"
The Apostle John gives us this advice: "Dear friends, do not give faith to every spirit (i.e. to every feeling, every inspiration, every idea), but test the spirits, to test whether they really come from God (or from the world)". But what does it mean to test the Spirit? It is simply this: when you feel something, you feel like doing something, or you come up with an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself: is this what I feel from the Spirit of God or from the spirit of the world?
And how do you do it? Pope Francis' advice is to ask yourself "once, twice a day, or when you feel something that comes into your mind" - This thing that I feel, that I want to do, where does it come from? "From the spirit of the world or the Spirit of God? Will this make me good or will it throw me down the road of worldliness that is unconsciousness?"
Many Christians, the Pope lamented, "live without knowing what goes on in their hearts." That is why St Paul and St.John say: "Do not lend faith to every spirit," to what you feel, but put it to the test. And so "we will know what happens in our hearts."
Pope Francis concluded: "For many Christians, their hearts are like a road and they do not know who comes and goes, who comes and goes, because they do not know how to examine what happens inside."
For this reason I recommend that you take some time every day before going to bed or at noon - when you want to - and ask yourself: what has happened in my heart today? What did I want to do, to think? What is the spirit that has moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit who always brings me forward to the encounter with the Lord or the spirit of the world who gently, slowly moves me away from the Lord; it is a slow, slow, slow slide.
In a final piece of advice, the Pope said: "we ask for this grace, "to remain in the Lord and we pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may make us remain in the Lord and give us the grace to distinguish spirits, that is, what moves within us. May our heart not be a road," may it be the meeting point between us and God.
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate