WITH THE FIRE OF THE SPIRIT
The first Christian communities were concerned about clearly differentiating John’s baptism that immersed people in the Jordan River from Jesus’ baptism that communicated his Spirit in order to cleanse, renew and transform the heart of his followers. Without that Spirit of Jesus, the church closes up shop and dies.
Only the Spirit of Jesus can put more truth into today’s Christianity. Only his Spirit can lead us to recover our true identity, letting go of paths that lead us further and further from the Gospel. Only that Spirit can give us light and energy to fire up the renewal that the Church needs today.
Pope Francis knows very well that the greatest obstacle to putting in effect a new process of evangelization is spiritual mediocrity. He says so left and right. He wants to spark with all his power a process that is «more burning, joyful, generous, bold, full of love to the end, and full of contagious life». But all that will be insufficient «if the fire of the Spirit doesn’t burn in their hearts».
That’s why he is looking to give today’s Church «evangelizers with Spirit» who open themselves without fear to the Spirit’s action and who find in that Holy Spirit of Jesus «the power to announce the truth of the Gospel with audacity, at the top of their voices and in every time and place, even when it is against the current».
The renovation that the Pope wants to push in today’s Christianity isn’t possible «when the lack of a deep spirituality translates into pessimism, fatalism and mistrust», or when it leads us to think that «nothing can change» and in the end result «it’s useless to even try», or when we finally just give up, «dominated by a chronic discontent or boredom that withers our soul».
Francis warns us that «sometime we lose our enthusiasm when we forget that the Gospel responds to the deepest needs of each person». However that’s not the way things should be. The Pope forcefully expresses his conviction: «it’s not the same to have known Jesus as to not have known him, it’s not the same to walk alongside him as to walk tentatively, it’s not the same to be able to listen to him as to ignore his Word… it’s not the same to try to build the world on his Gospel as to try to do it only based on our own ideas».
We need to discover all this based on our own personal experience in Jesus. On the contrary, for the one who doesn’t discover it, «that one will quickly lose energy and passion; and a person who isn’t convinced, enthusiastic, sure, in love, won’t convince anyone». Isn’t it right here that we’ll find one of the main obstacles to pushing forward the renewal that Pope Francis wants?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf