Pope at Santa Marta: Heaven in our hands
(Vatican Radio) The Holy Spirit is the “seal” of light with which God has placed Heaven in Christians’ hands. Often, however, Christians avoid this light in preference of a life spent in the shadows, or worse still, in a false light, that sparkles with hypocrisy.
Pope Francis’ homily at Mass Friday morning, followed the First Reading from St. Paul who explains to the Christians of Ephesus that in believing in the Gospel they have received “the seal of the Holy Spirit.” With this gift, the Pope says, “God not only chose us” but gave us a style, “a way of life, which is not only a list of habits, it is more: it is an identity”:
“Our identity is precisely this seal, this power of the Holy Spirit, that we all have received in Baptism. And the Holy Spirit has sealed our hearts, and more, walks with us. This Spirit, that was promised us – that Jesus promised us – this Spirit not only gives us an identity, but it is also a down payment on our inheritance. With Him, Heaven begins. We are already living in this Heaven, this eternity, because we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, which is the very beginning of Heaven: it was our down payment; we have it in hand. We have Heaven in hand with this seal”.
However, Pope Francis continued, having the pledge of Heaven itself for eternity does not stop Christians from slipping on at least a few temptations. First, he notes, “when we want to, not necessarily cancel out this identity, but dull it down”:
“This is the lukewarm Christian. It is a Christian who, yes, goes to Mass on Sundays, but whose identity is not visible in his way of life. He may even live like a pagan, but he is a Christian. Being lukewarm. Dulling down our identity. And the other sin, of which Jesus spoke to his disciples, and which we heard: ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’ ‘Pretending’: I pretend to be a Christian, but am not. I am not transparent, I say one thing – ‘yes, yes I am a Christian’ – but I do another, something that is not Christian“.
Instead, and Paul himself reminds us in another passage, a Christian life lived according to that identity created by the Holy Spirit brings with it, gifts of very different weight:
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And this is our path to Heaven, it is our road, so that Heaven may begin here. Because we have this Christian identity, we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be careful with this seal, with this our Christian identity, which is not only a promise, no, we have it already in hand our hand, we have a down payment”.