Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian Hope at Wednesday’s General Audience, taking as his starting point a reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
Rom 15, 13-14: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I myself am convinced about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.
In anticipation of the celebration of Pentecost, Pope Francis compared the Holy Spirit to the wind that leads us “towards the safe harbour of eternal life” and called us to defend and care for creation.
“The Spirit is the wind pushing us forward, keeping us going, that makes us feel like pilgrims and foreigners and doesn’t allow us to get comfortable and become sedentary,” Francis said during his general audience at St. Peter’s Square on May 31.
The pope said that hope is both an anchor (cf. Heb 6:18-19) that keeps us safe in turbulent waves and a sail that allows us to glide above the water. Hope “collects the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into energy that pushes the boat toward the open sea or the shore,” he added.
St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans concludes by praying that “the God of hope” will make us “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The pope said that this hope is not only for the eternal life after death, but also for our lives on this earth.
“As long as there is life, there is hope,” Pope Francis said quoting a popular Italian saying. “The opposite is also true: As long as there is hope there is life. Men need hope in order to live and they need the Holy Spirit in order to hope.”
St. Paul’s letter mentions an “abundance of hope” that the Holy Spirit can give us so that we may never be discouraged. “The Holy spirit pushes us to go forward, always forward, and that is why hope does not disappoint!” the pope added off-the-cuff.
The Holy Spirit is what gives us the will to hope when all hope is lost: for Isaac it was when God asked him to sacrifice his only son and for Mary when she stood at the feet of Jesus’s Cross.
This “invincible hope” that the Holy Spirit gives us can also be shared with our brothers and sisters so that we may be “sowers of hope.”
“It’s not Christian to sow bitterness and doubt,” the pope said in an impromptu remark. “Sow the oil of hope, sow the perfume of hope and not the vinegar of bitterness and despair.”
The pope quoted Cardinal John Henry Newman, who said that filled with this hope we can become “consolers in the image of the Paraclete… advocates, helpers and bringers of comfort to others.”
The poor, the marginalized, the unloved are the ones who need someone to be their consoler and defender the most, the pope said. This world we live in also needs the Holy Spirit and St. Paul wrote that it also “ardently awaits” the liberation.
“This calls us to respect creation,” Pope Francis said. “You can’t dirty a painting without offending the artist who created it.”
The pope concluded the audience calling for Mary’s intercession as we approach the feast of Pentecost, which Francis called the “birthday of the Church,” and that the Holy Spirit make us “abundant in hope.”
“I will say more: May it lead us to give hope to all who need it the most, the most marginalized and to all those who need it,” the pope said.
Francis also sent a warm welcome to the charismatic Christians present at the square that will be joining the pope Saturday June 3 at Circus Maximus to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the charismatic movement.