(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday spoke about the fire of the Holy Spirit, saying the Church doesn’t need bureaucrats but impassioned missionaries with this fire inside their hearts. He warned that without this fire, the Church risked becoming a cold or merely lukewarm Church, made up of cold and lukewarm Christians, and urged his listeners to reflect on their own attitudes. The Pope’s words came during his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Quoting from Jesus’ words where he says “I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were blazing already!” Pope Francis said Christ wants the Holy Spirit “to set alight our hearts and make us capable of loving.” This fire, he explained, “has a creative strength that purifies and renews… it burns up every human misery, every egoism, every sin, it transforms us from within, it regenerates us.”
He explained that “if we open ourselves completely to the action of the Holy Spirit, He will give us the courage and the fervour to announce Jesus and his consoling message of mercy and salvation to everybody, navigating in the open seas without fear.” "But the fire begins in our hearts."
In carrying out its mission in the world, the Pope stressed that the Church “needs the help of the Holy Spirit to not be held back through fear and calculation, to not get used to walking within safe boundaries.” Departing from his prepared text, he warned that these two attitudes lead the Church “to becoming an administrative or bureaucratic Church that never takes risks.”
Instead, he said, the “Apostolic courage that the Holy Spirt ignites in us like a fire helps us to surmount walls and barriers, it makes us creative and it spurs us to set forth, journeying along unexplored or uncomfortable roads, offering help to whoever we encounter.”
Now more than ever, the Pope continued, there’s a need for priests, consecrated people and lay Christians to feel compassion and reach out like good neighbours to others, “those who are suffering, the needy, the many human miseries and problems, the refugees.”
Pointing to the example of those priests, men and women religious and lay people who throughout the world announce the gospel with great love and faithfulness, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, Pope Francis said “their exemplary witness reminds us that the Church doesn’t need bureaucrats and diligent office workers but impassioned missionaries consumed by the ardour of bringing to all people the consoling words of Christ.”
This, he declared, “is the fire of the Holy Spirit. If the Church doesn’t receive this fire and doesn’t allow it to enter inside, it becomes a cold or merely lukewarm Church, incapable of giving life, because it is made up of cold and lukewarm Christians.” He urged his listeners to reflect on whether their hearts are capable of receiving this fire.
The Pope concluded his Angelus address by turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary and asking for her prayers to help warm our hearts with this divine fire. Noting that Sunday was the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the martyr of charity, he said the saint’s example teaches us to embrace “the fire of love for God and neighbour.”
In his brief address after the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis sent greetings to the many different groups of pilgrims present and urged his listeners “to make an effort to always forgive (others) and have a compassionate heart.”
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