The Holy Spirit gives strength amid persecution – Pope Francis

The Holy Spirit gives strength amid persecution – Pope Francis

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square after the Wednesday general audience, May 7, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square after the Wednesday general audience, May 7, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

.- It is the Holy Spirit who gives Christians the ability to be witnesses of the Gospel in their daily lives, Pope Francis said Monday during Mass at the Santa Marta residence's chapel. However, with that witness comes persecution.

“The Christian,  with the strength of the Spirit,” the Roman Pontiff said, “gives witness to the living Lord, to the Risen Lord, to the Lord’s presence in our midst, that the Lord celebrates with us His death, His Resurrection, each time we come to the altar.”

“The Christian too gives witness, aided by the Spirit, in his daily life, through the way in which he acts. It is the continuous witness of the Christian.  But many times this witness provokes attacks, provokes persecution.”

During his May 2 homily, Pope Francis spoke of the witness Christ shares through his Spirit, and the witness of the faithful – especially in periods of persecution.

Such persecution, he said may take the form of “little persecutions,” such as gossip and criticism, or more serious forms, such as those which “place Christians or make them even give up their lives.”

Citing Christ, the Pope said this is price of the Christian's witness: “They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.”

Pope Francis reflected on the day's first reading from Acts, which recounts God opening the heart of a purple-cloth dealer named Lydia, who had come to listen to St. Paul's preaching.

“This woman felt something inside her which made her say ‘this is true! And I agree with what this man says, this man who gives witness to Jesus Christ,’” the Pope said.

He asked who it was that “touched the heart of this woman,” and told her to listen to the truth?  

“It was the Holy Spirit who made this woman feel that Jesus was the Lord,” he said. “It made her know that salvation was in Paul’s words; it made this woman hear witness.  The Spirit gives witness to Jesus.”

The Roman Pontiff said every time our heart is moved to draw “closer to Jesus, it’s the Spirit which is working inside us.”

“The Holy Spirit which introduced us to Jesus,” continued Pope Francis, “is the same one who urges us to make Him known to others, not so much through words, but through living witness.”

“It is good to ask the Holy Spirit to come into our heart, to give witness to Jesus; tell Him: Lord, may I not stray from Jesus.  Teach me what Jesus taught.  Help me remember what Jesus said and did and also, help me to give witness to these things. So that worldliness, the easy things, the things that really come from the father of lies, from the prince of this world, sin, do not lead me away from giving witness.”