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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Angelus concerning the fire of the Holy Spirit

At noon today, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the usual Sunday appointment.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday's gospel (Lk 12:49-53) is part of the teachings Jesus shared with the disciples during his journey to Jerusalem, where he would die on the cross.  To indicate the scope of his mission, He used three images: fire, baptism and division.  Today, I want to speak about the first image: fire.

Jesus expresses it this way: I have come to bring fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it were already alight! (Lk 12:49).  The fire that Jesus is speaking about is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the living presence that is at work within us from the day of our baptism.  This fire is a creative force that purifies and renews, burns away all human suffering, every tendency to self-centredness, every sin; it transforms us from within, renews us and makes us capable of loving.  Jesus' desire is that the Holy Spirit will become like a fire within our hearts, for only by beginning in our hearts can the fire of divine love grow and produce the Kingdom of God.  It doesn't begin in the head, it begins in the heart.  This is the reason why Jesus wants this fire to enter into our hearts.  If we are completely open to the actions of this fire which is the Holy Spirit, He will give us the courage and the zeal to proclaim Jesus to everyone and to share with them his message of mercy and salvation, as we fearlessly navigate the open seas ... but this fire begins in our hearts.

The fulfillment of his mission in the world, the Church - that is to say we who are the Church - needs the help of the Holy Spirit in order that we do not allow ourselves to be deterred by fear and calculation, so that we do not become accustomed to walking within secure confines.  These two attitudes can lead the Church to become a functional organization that never takes risks.  Instead, the apostolic courage that the Holy Spirit kindles within us like a fire helps us to overcome the walls and barriers, makes us creative and encourages us to spring into motion so that we can travel even unexplored and inconvenient roads, offering hope to those we meet.  With this fire of the Holy Spirit, we are called to become more and more a community of people who are guided and transformed, filled with understanding, people with rapidly beating hearts and joyous faces.  More than ever today, this is needed; more than ever today, we need priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who carry the attentive gaze of the apostles, in order to be moved and to be able to stand before the discomforts of spiritual and material poverty, thereby characterizing the journey of evangelization and mission with the healing rhythm of closeness.  The fire of the Holy Spirit leads us and draws us close to others: to people who are suffering, in need; to all the sufferings of humanity, to all the problems; to refugees, to displaced persons ... to all those who are suffering.  The fire that comes from the heart.  Fire.

At this moment, I am also thinking with admiration above all for numerous priests, religious and lay faithful who, all throughout the world, dedicate themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel with great love and faithfulness, often even at the cost of their own lives.  Their exemplary testimony reminds us that the Church does not need bureaucrats and diligent officials, but rather passionate missionaries, devoured by ardour to bring the consoling words of Jesus and his grace to everyone.  This is the fire of the Holy Spirit.  If the Church does not receive this fire or does not allow it to enter within her, it will become a cold Church or merely tepid, unable to give life, since it would then be composed of cold and tepid Christians.  It would be good for us today to take five minutes and to ask ourselves: How is my heart doing?  Is it cold?  Is it tepid?  Is it capable of receiving this fire?  Let us take five minutes to do this.  It will do us all good.

And let us ask the Virgin Mary to pray with us and for us to our heavenly Father, so that He may pour out upon all believers the gift of the Holy Spirit, the divine fire that warms our hearts and helps us to be in solidarity with the joys and sufferings of our brothers.  We are supported on our journey by the example of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, martyr of charity, whose feast day is today: may he teach us how to live with the fire of love for God and for each other.
(Original text in Italian)

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I greet you all with affection: Romans and pilgrims who are here!

Once again today, I have the joy of greeting a few groups of young people: above all the scouts who have come from Paris; and the young people who have come to Rome on a walking and bicycling pilgrimage from Bisuschio, Treviso, Solarolo, Macherio, Sovico, Vall'Alta in Bergamo and the Seminarians from the minor Seminary of Bergamo.  I also repeat the words that were the theme of the great encounter in Kraków: Blessed are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown them; strive always to forgive and to have a compassionate heart.

I also greet all those involved in the Bicycling postcards project.

I wish you all a good Sunday; enjoy your lunch.  And, please don't forget to pray for me.  Good bye!
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