The Pope drew inspiration from today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles in which Philip evangelized the Ethiopian, a senior official of Queen Candace, and pointed out how the protagonist of the meeting was not Philip nor the Ethiopian, but rather the Holy Spirit.
“It is He who does things. It is the Spirit who gives birth to and grows the Church.”
“In days past, the Church has shown us how there can be a drama of resisting the Spirit: closed, hard, foolish hearts resisting the Spirit. We’ve seen things – the healing of the lame man by Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple; the words and the great things Stephen was doing … but they were closed off to these signs of the Spirit and resisted the Spirit. They were seeking to justify this resistance with a so-called fidelity to the law, that is, to the letter of the law.”
The Holy Father warned against those who resist the Spirit with “so-called fidelity to the law,” and stressed this guise of loyalty to the law can never justify such resistance.
“The Church,” Pope Francis stressed, “proposes the opposite: no resistance to the Spirit, but docility to the Spirit, which is precisely the attitude of the Christian.”
“Being docile to the Spirit, this docility is the yes that the Spirit may act and move forward to build up the Church.”
The Apostle Philip, Francis acknowldeged, was “busy as all bishops are, and this day surely he had his plan to work,” but the Spirit tells him to leave what he has planned and go to the Ethiopian – “and he obeyed.”
The Spirit, “working in the heart of the Ethiopian,” not only offers him the gift of faith, but makes him feel “something new in his heart,” Francis said.
Docility to the Spirit gives us joy
“We have heard, these past days, about resistance to the Spirit; and today we have an example of two men who were docile to the voice of the Spirit.
“And the sign of this is joy. Docility to the Spirit is a source of joy. “But I would like to do something, this … but I feel the Lord ask me to do something else. Joy I will find there, where there is the call of the Spirit!”
‘Recite this prayer whenever you doubt, have uncertainty’
A beautiful prayer that we can always pray, the Pope suggested, is that of Samuel: ‘Speak, Lord, because I am listening.’
This prayer asking for docility to the Holy Spirit, he underscored “carries forward the Church” and enables us “to be instruments of the Spirit so that the Church can move forward.”
“‘Speak, Lord, because your servant is listening,’ Francis repeated.
“We should pray this many times a day: when we have a doubt, when we do not know what to do, or when we want simply to pray. And with this prayer we ask for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit.”
Before concluding, the Pontiff invited those gathered to pray for the grace of being docile to the Spirit.