Commenting on Phillip’s evangelization of Ethiopia, Francis stresses the importance of openness to the Spirit: "Philip, one of the Apostles, 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 was planning to go to Ethiopia "and he obeyed."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Docility to the Holy Spirit, relying on the will of God "does things. It is the Spirit who gives birth and nurtures the Church" and not "so-called fidelity to the law, that is, to the letter of the law”, explained Pope Francis this morning during Mass in Casa Santa Marta. We need to pray, "to ask to be docilie to the Holy Spirit and with this docility to advance the Church, to be the instruments of the Spirit for the Church to move forward".
Vatican Radio reports that the Pope was commenting on the evangelization of the Ethiopians by Philip, a senior official of Queen Candace. The protagonist of this meeting, Pope Francis noted, is in fact not so much Philip, nor even the Ethiopian, but just the Spirit. "It is Him 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."
In referring to the reading, Pope Francis said that "the Church proposes the opposite: no resistance to the Spirit, but docility to the Spirit, which is precisely the attitude of the Christian.” He continued: “Being docile to the Spirit, this docility is the yes that the Spirit may act and move forward to build up the Church.” Here, he added, is Philip, one of the Apostles, “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." Pope Francis then outlined the meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian, in which the Apostle explains the Gospel and its message of salvation. The Spirit, he said, "was working in the heart of the Ethiopian", offers him "the gift of faith and this man felt something new in his heart." And at the end he asks to be baptized, being docile to the Holy Spirit.
"Two men,” the Pope said, “one an evangelist and one who knew nothing of Jesus, but the Spirit had sowed a healthy curiosity, not the curiosity of gossip." And in the end the eunuch goes his way with joy, "the joy of the Spirit, in the docility of the Spirit."
"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!”
A beautiful prayer asking for this docility, the Pope revealed, we may find in the First Book of Samuel, the prayer which the priest Eli suggests to the young Samuel, who during the night heard a voice calling to him: "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."
"This is a beautiful prayer that we can always pray: 'Speak, Lord, because I am listening.' The prayer asking for this docility to the Holy Spirit and with this docility to carry forward the Church, to be instruments of the Spirit so that the Church can move forward. 'Speak, Lord, because your servant is listening'. 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."