NCR reports that in a homily to hundreds of thousands in Philadelphia, Francis said that Jesus’ disciples were also afraid of new things – but that Jesus broke down all barriers to allow the Spirit to do its work.
“Jesus encountered hostility from people who did not accept what he said and did”. “For them, his openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable,” said the pontiff.
“The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith,” he said. “But the temptation to be scandalized by the freedom of God, who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threaten(ed) the authenticity of faith.”
“For Jesus, the truly ‘intolerable’ scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit!” said Francis.
God, the pope said, “will not be outdone in generosity and he continues to scatter seeds.”
“It is this confidence that makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them,” said Francis. “To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not ‘part of our group,’ who are not ‘like us,’ is a dangerous temptation.” He went on to say, “Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith!” he said.
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There are some wonderful things here. “Holiness” is “tied to little gestures.”
“Love is shown by ‘ little things’, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home.”
“To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit…to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not ‘part of our group’, who are not ‘like us’ is a dangerous temptation.”
He speaks to each of us and reassures us that reaching out to the other in love, no matter how small a gesture, is right and just.
It is so inclusive and yet it saddens me to see doors shut yet on those priests, religious and theologians who dared to speak with honesty and courage and were punished for it.
I love this Pope and I pray that those with influence around him would love him too and really listen to what he is saying here.
Think of the survivors of clergy sexual abuse who suffer still, think of the vast numbers of women in the Church who feel marginalised still who do not feel “part of the group.” Listen…listen.
Open the doors and make those small gestures of welcome and loving compassion. Then that ‘holy show’ in 2018 will truly mean something and we can show the world that we are trying to follow the One Francis is following.