May the joy of Easter emanate from your hearts!
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his followers that he would send the “Advocate” to remain with them as a teacher, and as one who would remind them of all that he had told them.
For the leadership and the people of the early Church, the presence, action and teaching of the Holy Spirit was plainly visible as they clarified the divisive issue of circumcision. The Holy Spirit is still strongly active in guiding individuals and the whole Church through the course of time.
Pope Francis continues to have a deep and positive impact on Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and non-believers alike. Within a few moments of his first public address, it was highly evident to all that the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi had come upon him. As many of you know, St. Francis was known as a man of simplicity, humility, and great care for the poor. This same gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to the Holy Father to remind us on how to live the Gospel! His missionary efforts around the world have had profound effects. Most notable to me was his visit to the Central African Republic where a Muslim coup caused the country to spiral into civil war. Against the wishes and pressure of his advisors, Pope Francis was eager to visit the danger zone and he brought the Gospel of peace to them! This is a defining characteristic of his ministry—he goes where the Gospel is needed the most. It takes faith and courage to do that.
Two of his encyclicals include joy in the title: The Joy of the Gospel and The Joy of Love
The Holy Spirit always comes to restore, strengthen, confirm, console and encourage. The fruits of the Spirit are joy, courage, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, understanding, goodwill, speech that is directed toward the up-building of each person and society. The Spirit is agile and creative too; like a bubbling spring that always seeks what is good and finds ways to make good things happen even against all odds. The encyclicals remind us of the joy we have when living life in the Spirit. Those who are worldly, selfish and forceful, and do not walk as humble servants of Jesus do not experience joy. Within each one of us there is an enlightenment that comes from the Gospel that helps us keep Jesus’ word alive in our hearts, words and actions. Just as the Holy Spirit equipped and accompanied the disciples to proclaim the Gospel as Jesus did, we are called to be the chosen witnesses who proclaim it today. May we be watchful and ready to welcome, console, confirm, strengthen and encourage those who come into our presence seeking God. God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter