Pope: A good Christian spreads hope – not bitterness
VATICAN— Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit has the power to fill us with the hope of Christ, in turn making us Christians vessels that bring hope to others, rather than bitterness or desperation.
“The Holy Spirit makes us not only able to hope, but also to be sowers of hope, that we too are, like him and thanks to him – the “paraclete” – consolers and defenders of our brothers, sowers of hope,” Pope Francis said May 31.
“A Christian can sow bitterness, can sow perplexity, and this is not Christian,” he said, adding: “whoever does this is not a good Christian. Sow hope: sow the oil of hope, sow the fragrance of hope, and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness.”
Francis continued his reflections on the virtue of hope during the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, this time centering on the role of the Holy Spirit in anticipation of the Feast of Pentecost.
Hope is simultaneously, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Hebrews, like an anchor and a sail, the Pope said. “If the anchor is what gives the boat safety and keeps it ‘anchored’ between the waves of the sea, the sail, instead, is what makes it proceed and advance on the waters.”
“Hope is really like a sail; it collects the wind of the Holy Spirit and transforms it into a driving force pushing the boat, depending on the case, offshore or to shore,” he explained.
“The Spirit is the wind that drives us forward, that keeps us on the road, makes us hear pilgrims and strangers, and does not allow us to sit and become a ‘sedentary’ people.”
This is why hope does not disappoint: “because there is the Holy Spirit within us that pushes us forward, always!” he said.
It’s also because of the Holy Spirit that we have the ability to rest in hope, and have hope even “against all hope,” as St. Paul says in Romans, the Pope continued.
To illustrate his point, Francis pointed to Abraham’s obedience when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and to the Virgin Mary as she stood at the foot of the cross of her son, Jesus, as examples of this supernatural hope.
It is possible to have this kind of “invincible” hope, he said, because the Holy Spirit helps us to recognize that we are children and heirs of God.
Again pointing to St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Francis noted that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
“The expression ‘God of hope’ does not just mean that God is the object of our hope, that is, the one we hope to reach one day in eternal life; it also means that God is the one who already makes us hope, indeed, makes us ‘happy in hope,’” he said.
According to a popular saying, “as long as there is life, there is hope.” While this is true, the Pope said that the converse is also true: “As long as there is hope, there is life. Men need hope to live.”
Quoting from a speech of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Francis said: “Educated by our own suffering, by our own sorrow, indeed by our own sins, we will have a mind and heart practiced in every work of love towards those that have need.”
“We will be, in measure of our capacity, consolers in the image of the Paraclete,” the Pope said. “That is, the Holy Spirit, and in all the senses that this word implies: advocates, helpers, comforters. Our words and our counsel, our way of acting, our voice, our gaze, will be gentle and peaceful.”
“Brothers and sisters, the coming feast of Pentecost – which is the birthday of the Church, eh? – we find ourselves together in prayer, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and of us,” he said in conclusion.
“And the gift of the Holy Spirit makes us abound in hope,” he said, but explained that there is more: the Holy Spirit “makes us ‘waste’ hope with all those who are most needy, the most discarded and with all those who need it.”