The Holy Spirit helps Christians remember their personal history so they do not think they are “a winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Holiness,’” Pope Francis said this morning.
“And when a little vanity creeps in, when someone believes themselves to be a winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Holiness,’ then memory is also good for us: ‘But ... remember where I took you from, the very least of the flock. You were behind, in the flock,’” the Pope preached May 13 in his homily on Acts 19.
Vatican Radio technicians and staff from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrant attended the 7:00 a.m. Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles recalled a trip that St. Paul made to Ephesus, where he met some disciples and asked them if they received the Holy Spirit. They replied, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
This response served as the launching point for the Pope’s homily.
These first Christians’ lack of awareness is not something that was confined to the first ages of the faith, he noted.
“Even now, many Christians do not know who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit is. And you sometimes hear: ‘But I get on well enough with the Father and with Son, because I pray the Our Father to the Father, I have communion with the Son, but I do not know what to do with the Holy Spirit …’” Pope Francis remarked.
These people see the Holy Spirit as “‘the dove, the one that gives us the seven gifts,’” he explained.
“But in this way,” the Pope said, “the poor Holy Spirit always comes last and finds no place in our lives.”
Pope Francis described the Holy Spirit as “God active in us,” “God who helps us remember,” who “awakens our memory.” Jesus himself explained this to the Apostles before Pentecost: the Spirit that God will send in my name “will remind you of everything I have said.”
“Memory is a great grace, and when a Christian has no memory – this is a hard thing, but it’s true – he is not a Christian, he is an idolater,” the Holy Father stated.
He explained that this is because people who have no memory fall into the trap of thinking that they do not need God and can save themselves.
But the Holy Spirit helps believers “enter into history,” he said, pointing to St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews.
There, the Pope taught, “the author says: ‘Remember your fathers in the faith’ – memory; ‘remember the early days of your faith, how you were courageous’ - memory. A memory of our life, of our history, a memory of the moment when we had the grace of meeting Jesus, the memory of all that Jesus has told us.”
“That memory that comes from the heart, that is a grace of the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis stressed.
He said remembering also means recalling “one’s own misery, that which makes us slaves, and together with them, the grace of God that redeems us from our miseries.”
Pope Francis concluded with an invitation to Christians to ask the grace of memory, so that they will never forget the paths that have been taken, “that they will not forget the graces of their lives; that they will not forget the forgiveness of their sins; that they will not forget that they were slaves and the Lord has saved them.”