The Holy Spirit "is the guarantee that God remains in us", whilst worldliness makes us thoughtless, to the point of not distinguishing good from evil. It is "even worse than sinning.” For the pontiff, the faithful should not trust every spirit, trust what they feel, but put it to a test instead. Thus “we will know what happens in our heart” because "many Christians have hearts like a road and do not know who is going and who is returning; they come and go because they do not know how to see what happens inside.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta. In his homily he took inspiration from the passage in the first letter of St John the Apostle (1 Jn 3:22, 4:6), first reading in the liturgy of the day, in which the evangelist heeds Jesus' advice to his disciples “to remain in God”.
Christian life means to remain in God and the Holy Spirit, which "is the guarantee that God remains in us”. By contrast, worldliness, the spirit of the world, makes us thoughtless, to the point of not distinguishing good from evil. One can "be in the most sinful cities, in the most atheistic societies, but if the heart remains in God," said the Pope, one can bring salvation.
To this effect, the pontiff mentioned the incident in the Acts of the Apostles, when people arrived in a city and met Christians, baptised by John, who asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” The former had no idea that it existed. How many Christians, Francis said, identify even today the Holy Spirit with a dove and do not know that "it is what makes you remain in the Lord, it is the guarantee, the power to remain in the Lord.”
The spirit of the world, on the other hand, is opposed to the Holy Spirit. “Jesus, at the Last Supper, did not ask the Father to remove the disciples from the world" for Christian life is in the world, but asked him “to protect them from the spirit of the world, which is the opposite”.
It is “even worse than sinning. It is an atmosphere that makes you thoughtless, leads you to a point that you cannot recognise good from evil.” By contrast, if we want to remain in God, “we must ask for the gift" of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee. On the basis of this, "we may know that we remain in the Lord”.
How can we know if we have [either] the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the world? Saint Paul advises us on this point: “And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God. When we go towards the spirit of the word, we grieve the Holy Spirit and ignore him, putting him apart and our life follows another road.”
The spirit of the world, the Pope went on to say, is to forget because "sin does not distance you from God if you realise it and ask for forgiveness.” However, “the spirit of the world makes you forget what sin is” so that everything goes.
Recently, a priest showed the Holy Father a video of Christians celebrating the New Year in a resort town in a Christian country. “They celebrated the first day of the year in a terribly worldly manner, throwing away lots of money and things. The spirit of the world: 'Is this a sin? No, my dear: this is corruption, worse than sin'. The Holy Spirit leads you to God and if you sin the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you rise, whereas the spirit of the world leads you to corruption, to the point that you cannot distinguish what is good from what is evil: It is all the same, everything goes.”
Quoting from an Argentinian song, Francis said: “Go, go, go ... everything is the same that we will meet over there in the oven”. The spirit of the world leads you to the thoughtlessness “of not distinguishing sin”. How do I know if “I am on the road of worldliness, of the spirit of the world, or if I am following the Spirit of God?”
“The apostle John advises us [when he says]: 'Dear ones, do not trust every spirit (that is, every feeling, every inspiration, every idea), but put the spirits to the test to see whether they belong to God (or the world) '. [. . .] But what is this testing the Spirit? It is simply this: when you feel something, you feel like doing something or you get an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself: Does what I feel come from the Spirit of God or from the spirit of the world?”
How can this be done? Francis’s advice is to ask yourself "once, twice a day, or when you feel something that comes to mind”: Where does this thing I feel, that I want to do, come from? “From the spirit of the world or from the Spirit of God? Will this make me good or drive me towards the road of thoughtless worldliness?”
So many Christians “live without knowing what is happening in their hearts”. This is why Saint Paul and Saint John said: “Do not lend faith to every spirit,” to what you feel, but put it to the test. Thus, “we shall know what happens in our heart” because "many Christians have hearts like a road and do not know who is going and who is returning, they come and go because they do not know how to see what happens inside.”
“For this reason, please, take some time every day before going to bed or at noon – whenever you want – [and ask yourself] what has been in my heart today? What did I want to do, [or] think about? What is the spirit that moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit that always brings me forward to meet the Lord or the spirit of the world that gently, slowly moves me away from the Lord” in a “slow, slow, slow slide.”
Francis ended his homily, calling on the faithful to ask for “the grace to remain in the Lord and pray to the Holy Spirit, so that it will make us remain in the Lord and give us the grace to distinguish the spirits, that is, what moves within us. May our heart not be a road,” may it be the meeting point between us and God.