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May 23, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 15


Without Holy Spirit, people risk being ‘armchair’ Christians

Without letting the Holy Spirit lead his or her life, a person risks being just an “armchair Christian” who recites “a cold morality” without actually living out the Gospel, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

Do not keep the Holy Spirit a prisoner, locked inside your heart; rather let him “push” and “move” you to boldly bring Jesus to others and to be able to be patient under pressure, the pope said May 9 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The pope’s homily looked at the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (19:1-8), in which St. Paul meets a group of disciples who were baptized by St. John the Baptist and had never heard of the Holy Sprit. After Paul baptizes them in Jesus’ name and lays his hands on them, they are filled with the Holy Spirit and receive his gifts.

There are still many Christians today who are unaware of how the Holy Spirit “moves the church,” the pope said.

“He’s the one who works in the church, in our hearts, he is the one who makes each Christian” unique, but united together as one family of God, he said.

It’s the Holy Spirit who “opens the doors and invites us to bear witness to Jesus,” as well as inspiring people to pray and to see God as father, liberating individuals from feeling like an “orphan,” which is what the devil would like to see, he said.

However, Christians risk reducing the faith to a code of ethics when they do not live out the mission of the Holy Spirit, the pope said.

Christians, he said, can’t limit themselves just to following the Ten Commandments “and nothing more,” which leads to “casuistry and a cold morality.”

The Christian life “isn’t ethics. It is an encounter with Jesus Christ,” he said. And it’s the Holy Spirit who “brings me to this encounter with Jesus Christ.”

The pope asked people to reflect on whether they are keeping the Holy Spirit, which they received at baptism, locked inside their hearts — like in a “luxury” prison — where he is not free to incite, inspire and explain Jesus’ word to the outside world.

The Holy Spirit “does not know how to make one thing: armchair Christians,” the pope said.

“The Holy Spirit cannot make us ‘virtual’ Christians who are not virtuous. The Holy Spirit makes real Christians. The Spirit takes life as it is and prophetically reads the signs of the times pushing us forward.”

The pope asked people reflect on how the Holy Spirit dwells in them and to pray for the grace to be “docile” to him.

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