Christian life is not a 'collage' of activities, Pope says

Pope Francis begins his popemobile tour of the May 15 2013 general audience in St Peters Square Credit Stephen Driscoll CNA Pope Francis begins his popemobile tour of the May 15, 2013 general audience in St. Peter's Square. | Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

In his July 6 homily, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to be open to the renewal of the Holy Spirit, both in their own lives and in the "structures" of Church life.

"Christian life is not a collage of things" or a "collection" or activities, such as Mass attendance, the Holy Father said.

"It is a harmonious whole, harmonious, and the Holy Spirit does it!" he explained. "He renews all things: He renews our heart, our life, and makes us live differently, but in a way that takes up the whole of our life."

"You cannot be a Christian of pieces, a part time Christian," the Pope cautioned, because Christianity requires a renewal of the entire person.

"Being Christian ultimately means, not doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit – or, to use the words of Jesus, becoming new wine."

Pope Francis delivered the homily at daily Mass at the Santa Marta Residence, where a group of Swiss Guard recruits were present.

The Holy Father said that the essence of being Christian is not "doing things," but "allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit."

The Spirit, who brings new life, renews even the "ancient structures" in the life of the Church, he said, and we should not be afraid of this renewal.

Jesus is the one who makes all things new, the Holy Father emphasized.

He explained that Jesus brings a "true renewal of the law, the same law, but more mature, renewed." The requirements of Jesus are greater than the requirements of the law, he observed. For example, the law allows us to hate our enemies, while Jesus demands that we love them and pray for them.

Renewal within the heart is central, he said. In addition, the newness of the Gospel also "renews the structures," he continued, referencing Jesus' statement about needing new wineskins for new wine. 

"In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures…It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons."

He recalled early discussions in Church history on whether it was necessary for Gentiles to carry out all of the Jewish rituals to become Christian. Ultimately, it was decided that this was not necessary, and the Gentiles could be baptized into the Church.

The Pope referred to this as a "renewal of the structures."

"And so the Church always goes forward, giving space to the Holy Spirit that renews these structures," he said. "Don't be afraid of that!"

Carried forward by the Holy Spirit, we see "the liberty to always find the newness of the Gospel in us, in our life, and even in our structures," he said.

Pope Francis also referenced the role of Mary, noting that she was there with the disciples at Pentecost.

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"And where the mother is, the children are safe! All of them!" he said. "Let us ask for the grace of not being afraid of the newness of the Gospel, of not being afraid of the renewal that the Holy Spirit brings, of not being afraid to let go of the passing structures that imprison us."


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