MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF
DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE
Tuesday, 28 May 2019
"Either you are young of heart, of soul, or you are not fully Christian". The homily of the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in Santa Marta on the morning of Tuesday, May 28, was a true hymn to life, to vitality, to the "youth of the Spirit", to be contrasted with the tired drift of so many "retired" people in the soul, torn down by difficulties and sadness because "sin ages". A wave of joy based on the "great gift that Jesus left us": the Holy Spirit.
The starting point of the Pontiff's reflection was the Gospel passage of the day (John, 16, 5-11) which reported an excerpt from the farewell address to the apostles during the last supper. On that occasion Jesus "says many things", but "the heart of this discourse is the Holy Spirit". The Lord, in fact, offers his friends a real "catechesis on the Holy Spirit": he begins by noting their state of mind - "Because I have said this that I am leaving, sadness has filled your heart" - and "He blames them sweetly" because, the Pope noted, "sadness is not a Christian attitude".
The inner turmoil of the apostles - who, faced with the tragedy of Jesus and the uncertainty about the future, "begin to understand the drama of the passion" - can be compared to the reality of every Christian. In this regard, Francis recalled how in the daily prayer "we asked the Lord to keep the renewed youth of the spirit in us", thus raising an invocation "against sadness in prayer". It is precisely this, he added, the point: "The Holy Spirit works in us so that there is always this youth, which is renewed every day with his presence".
Deepening this concept, the Pontiff recalled: "A great saint said that a sad saint is a sad saint; a sad Christian is a sad Christian: he does not go ». What does it mean? that "sadness does not enter the Christian's heart", because he "is young". A youth that is renewed and that "makes him carry so many trials, so many difficulties". Something that - he explained with reference to the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles (16, 22-34) - happened, for example, to Paul and Silas who were beaten and imprisoned by the magistrates in Filippi. At that juncture, the Pope said, "the Holy Spirit enters and renews everything, he does everything new; the jailer is also young ».
The Holy Spirit, therefore, is he who "accompanies us in life, who sustains us". As expressed by the name Jesus gives him: "Paraclete". An unusual term, whose meaning often escapes many. The Pope also joked about this by telling a brief anecdote about a Mass he celebrated when he was a parish priest: "There were more than 250-300 children, it was a Pentecost Sunday and I asked them:" Who knows who is Holy Spirit?". And all: "Me, Me, Me!" - "You": "The paralytic," he told me. He had heard "Paraclito" and did not understand what it was "and so he said:" paralytic ". A funny distortion that, as Francis said, reveals a reality: "So many times we think that the Holy Spirit is a paralytic, that he does nothing ... And instead he is what sustains us".
In fact, the Pontiff explained, "the word paraclete means" that which is beside me to support me "so that I do not fall, that I may go on, so that I may preserve this youth of the Spirit". This is why "the Christian is always young: always. And when he begins to grow old the Christian's heart, his vocation as a Christian begins to diminish. Either you are young of heart, of soul or you are not fully Christian ».
Some might be frightened of difficulties and say: "But how can I ...?": There is the Spirit. The Spirit will help you in this renewed youth ". This does not mean that the pain is lacking. Paul and Silas, for example, suffered greatly from the beatings they received: "the text says that when the jailer saw that miracle he wanted to convert and took them to his home and treated their wounds with oil ... bad wounds, strong...". But despite the pain, they "were full of joy, they sang ... This is youth. A youth that always makes you look hope ".
And how do you get this youth? "It takes - said the Pope - a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, which is always next to us". It is the Spirit "the great gift that Jesus left us: this support, which keeps you going". And so, to those who say: "Yes, Father, it is true, but you know, I am a sinner, I have many, many bad things in my life and I cannot ...", we can reply: "All right: look at your sins; but look at the Spirit who is beside you and speaks with the Spirit: he will support you and give you youth back ". Because, he added, "we all know that sin ages: it ages. Ages the soul, ages everything. Instead the Spirit helps us to repent, to leave sin aside and to go on with that youth ».
Therefore Francis urged to leave aside what he called "pagan sadness", explaining: "I do not say that life is a carnival: no, that is not true. In life there are crosses, there are difficult moments. But in these difficult moments we feel that the Spirit helps us to move forward, like Paul and Silas, and to overcome difficulties. Even martyrdom. Because there is this renewed youth ".
The conclusion of the homily was therefore an invitation to prayer: "Let us ask the Lord not to lose this renewed youth, not to be retired Christians who have lost joy and are not allowed to carry on ... The Christian never goes to pension; the Christian lives, lives because he is young - when he is a true Christian ".
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