Pope Francis’ catechesis on the Sixth Sunday of Easter is dedicated to the gratuitousness of God’s love and to the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis prayed the Regina Caeli on Sunday and addressed the faithful, linked via live-streaming, to the Vatican’s Apostolic Library, encouraging them to live the Gospel with joy in the knowledge they are sustained by the Holy Spirit who lights the way.
Taking his cue from the Gospel passage of the day (Jn 14:15-21), the Pope said it presents two fundamental messages: the observance of the commandments and the promise of the Holy Spirit.
In his words to the disciples, he said, Jesus links love for Him to the observance of the commandments, something he had insisted upon in His farewell discourse at the Last Supper when He said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.
And further, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me”.
The Pope explained that with these words Jesus asks us to love Him, and “demands the willingness to follow His way, that is, the will of the Father.”
This, he continued, is summarised in the commandment of reciprocal love, given by Jesus Himself: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”.
Jesus’ love is gratuitous
Jesus, he underscored, did not say “Love me as I have loved you”, but “love one another as I have loved you”.
“He loves us without asking us to do the same in return, and He wants this gratuitous love of His to become the concrete form of life among us: this is His will,” he said.
Pope Francis then explained that to help the disciples walk this path, Jesus promised He would pray to the Father to send “another Paraclete”; that is, a consoler, a defender, to accompany them and give them “the intelligence to listen and the courage to observe His words.”
The Holy Spirit: God’s gift
“This is the Holy Spirit,” he said, the Gift of God’s love that descends into the heart of the Christian.
That’s why, he said, after Jesus died and rose again, His love is given to those who believe in Him and are baptised “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
It is the Spirit, he said, who guides us, enlightens, us strengthens us so that we may go forward in life even “through adversity and difficulty, joys and sorrows, remaining on the path of Jesus.”
This, he continued, is possible if we remain docile to the Holy Spirit, so that, through His presence at work in us, He may console and transform our hearts, opening them to truth and love.
The Spirit illuminates our steps
The Pope said that at some time in our lives we are all faced with the experience of error and sin, and it is the Holy Spirit who helps us not to succumb, and enables us to grasp and live fully the meaning of Jesus’s words: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
The commandments, he added, are not given to us as a kind of mirror in which to see the reflection of our miseries and inconsistencies: “No, the Word of God is given to us as the Word of life, which transforms, which renews, which does not judge to condemn, but heals and has forgiveness as its end. A Word that is light for our steps.”
Pope Francis concluded that through this Gift, God helps us to be free people, “people who want and know how to love, people who have understood that life is a mission to proclaim the wonders that the Lord accomplishes in those who trust Him.”
“May the Virgin Mary, model of the Church, who knows how to listen to the Word of God and to welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit,” he prayed, “help us to live the Gospel with joy, knowing that we are sustained by the Spirit, the divine fire that warms our hearts and illuminates our steps.