“The Spirit guides us to do no wrong, but to receive the spirit with docility, to know the Spirit in the Word and to live according to the Spirit. This is the opposite of the resistance for which Stephen scolded the doctors of the law: ‘You always have resisted the Spirit!’”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta, offered to the nuns of the house itself, who today celebrate their foundress, Saint Louise de Marillac. During the service he noted that the attitude to receive the Word is docility, openness of the heart, and familiarity with it, an attitude shown by those who do not resist the Holy Spirit.
Today’s readings, from the Acts of the Apostles, note that Stephen’s martyrdom was followed by a great wave of persecution in Jerusalem. Only the apostles remained, whilst lay believers fled to Cyprus, Phoenicia and Antioch, where they proclaimed the Word only to the Jews.
However, in Antioch, some of them began to proclaim Jesus Christ also to the Greeks, i.e. "to the pagans", because they felt that the Holy Spirit urged them to do so. "They were docile,” the pope said, “Lay people brought the Word after the persecution because they had this docility vis-à-vis the Holy Ghost. "
In the first chapter of his Letter, James exhorted believers "to receive the Word with docility". People must be open, "not rigid". The first step on the path of docility is therefore to "receive the Word, which opens the heart".
The second thing to do is to "know the Word", "to know Jesus", who said "’My my sheep listen to my voice, I know them and they follow me’.” They know because they are docile to the Spirit.
The third step to undertake is "familiarity with the Word. To always bring the Word with us. To read it, to open our hearts to the Lord, open our hearts to the Spirit who makes us understand the Word. And the fruit of this – to receive the Word, to understand the Word, to take it with us, to have this familiarity with the Word – is a great fruit! A person who does this displays goodness, kindness, joy, peace, self -control and meekness.”
This is the style that gives docility to the Spirit. “But I have to receive the Spirit which brings me the Word with docility. And this docility, by not resisting the Spirit, brings me this way of living, this way of acting. To receive the Word with docility, to know the Word and call to the Spirit to grant us the grace to understand and then to give space for this seed to sprout and grow into this attitude of goodness, meekness, gentleness, peace, charity and self-control. All this shows a Christian attitude”.
According to the First Reading, when news arrived in Jerusalem that people from Cyprus and Cyrene had announced the Word to the pagans in Antioch, people were a bit frightened and sent Barnabas there, wondering, the pope said, why the Word was being preached to the uncircumcised, and why "these people we do not know" preached it instead of the apostles.
"What’s great," said the Pope, is that when Barnabas arrived in Antioch and saw "the grace of God," he rejoiced, urging people "to remain resolute, loyal to the Lord" because he was a man full of the Holy Spirit ".
“The Spirit guides us to do no wrong, but to receive the spirit with docility, to know the Spirit in the Word and to live according to the Spirit. And this is the opposite of the resistance for which Stephen scolded the doctors of the law: ‘You always have resisted the Spirit!’ Do we resist the spirit? Do we create resistance? Or do we receive him? With docility. These are James’s words. ‘To receive with docility.’ Resistance is the opposite of docility. Let us call for this grace.”
The Pope ended his homily by noting that in Antioch, “we were given our last name". In Antioch, the disciples were called Christians for the first time.