Loyola Press recently published a wonderful collection of Pope Francis’s talks, sermons, and writings: Embracing the Way of Jesus: Reflections from Pope Francis on Living Our Faith. Here is one of many treasures from our Pope: “When we receive and welcome him into our heart, the Holy Spirit immediately begins to make us sensitive to his voice and to guide our thoughts, our feelings, and our intentions according to the heart of God.”
This is not new information. Of course, we Christians believe that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. But so often it seems that we don’t really expect this to mean anything. That is, we live as if we are still looking for help from outside ourselves.
- “If only I knew the Bible better.”
- “If only my prayer life were more vital.”
- “If only I had the wisdom to make good decisions.”
- “If only I had the patience to deal with family conflict or irritations at work.”
- “If only . . . There must be something I’m missing. Once God gives me what I need, life will go much better. But I need to pray for it. And I need to know what to ask for, don’t I?”
We will always be growing in our knowledge of Scripture, in our prayer practices, and in virtues such as wisdom and patience. The Holy Spirit draws us into further growth. This is normal for the Christian life.
But the Holy Spirit dwells in you and me. The Holy Spirit dwells within the faith community. We already have everything we need to please God. And it’s not “out there” somewhere but right here, in here, in the life Christ has already loved, forgiven, and transformed.
As Christians, we should be more confident that the Holy Spirit is at work, all the time, in our lives. If we aren’t confident, then probably we are not paying attention. We’re looking everywhere else but not within. We’re not listening to the Spirit’s voice in our own thoughts and desires and dreams.
We are not trusting God to do God’s work. We don’t truly believe that Christ has already integrated us into his Body. We doubt that the Holy Spirit can actually work effectively through our situation, personality, history, and gifts.
I wonder if this is the kind of attitude that caused Jesus to say, on more than one occasion, “Oh, you of little faith!” He was right there in person, and people still lacked the confidence to follow his way.
How do you pay attention to the Holy Spirit, who is lovingly at work in your life?