The Pope drew inspiration from today’s biblical passage which recounted the conversion of St. Paul, pointing out that zeal for holy things does not mean one’s heart is open to God.
While Paul of Tarsus examplified a man extreme in his fidelity to the principles of his faith, his heart was totally deaf to Christ, the Pope said, noting Paul’s heart was so closed that he even agreed to persecute Jesus’ followers who lived in Damascus.
Never too late to change
On the road to Damascus, when Paul is knocked off his horse and loses his sight, everything changes, the Pope explained.
Paul’s story, Francis underscored, becomes “the story of a man who allows God to change his heart.”
“In that moment he lost his sight. ‘And he let himself be led.’ His heart, began to open itself. Thus, taking him by the hand, the men with him led him to Damascus and for three days he stayed there, blind, and took neither food nor drink.”
While this man had ‘hit his low-point,’ the Argentine Pope said, he realized immediately that he must accept this humiliation.
“And the true path towards opening one’s heart is humiliation. When the Lord sends us humiliations or allows them to visit us, it is exactly for this reason: that the heart be open, docile; that the heart convert itself to the Lord Jesus.”
Holy Spirit Changes Hearts
“Paul’s heart is opened,” the Pope said. “In those days of loneliness and blindness, his interior vision is changed. Then God sends him Ananias, who lays his hands on Saul and his eyes are opened. But there is an aspect to this dynamic which, Pope Francis said, must be taken into consideration: the action of the Holy Spirit.”
“We must remember that the protagonist in these stories is neither the doctors of the law, nor Stephen, nor Phillip, nor the eunuch, not even Saul… The real protagonist is the Holy Spirit.
The protagonist of the Church is the Holy Spirit who guides the people of God.
Pope Francis reflected how beautiful it is to see how the Lord can change hearts, even turning hardened, stubborn ones into ones docile to the Holy Spirit.
“All of us have a hardened heart. All of us. Let us ask the Lord that He make us see that hardness of heart leaves us on the ground.”
The Holy Father concluded his reflection, saying, “Let us ask Him to give us the grace and – if necessary – the humiliations not to remain on the ground but to rise, with the dignity with which God created us, that is, the grace of a heart open and docile to the Holy Spirit.”