Pope Francis on Wednesday General Audience
By Christopher Wells
Dec 7 2023
Continuing his catechesis on the apostolic zeal of the believer, Pope Francis on Wednesday emphasizes that the proclamation of the Gospel always takes place in the Holy Spirit.
“Without the Holy Spirit, all zeal is vain and falsely apostolic,” Pope Francis said at Wednesday’s General Audience. “It would only be our own, and would not bear fruit.” Due to lingering health issues, the Holy Father’s reflection was once again read by an assistant from the Secretariat of State.
In recent weeks, the Pope has been reflecting on the “essential characteristics” of the proclamation of the Gospel, which is joyful, addressed to everyone, and relevant to our times.
The final characteristic, Pope Francis said, is the need for the proclamation to take place “in the Spirit,” the “protagonist” of evangelization, who is responsible for the spread of the Gospel.
However, “the primacy of the Spirit should not induce us to indolence,” the Pope said, adding, “Confidence [in the Spirit] does not justify disengagement.” Instead, the Holy Spirit inspires the Church’s mission, which should imitate the “style” of the Spirit, marked by creativity and simplicity.
Pope Francis warned that, in an age like our own, it is easy to retreat from pastoral outreach, taking refuge “in safety zones” that are “temptations that disguise themselves as fidelity to tradition” but are often “reactions to personal dissatisfactions.”
Instead, “pastoral creativity, being bold in the Spirit, ardent in His missionary fire, is the proof of fidelity to Him,” the Pope said.
The simplicity of the Spirit
Proclamation in the Spirit is also marked by simplicity, “precisely because the Spirit takes us to the source, the ‘first proclamation’,” the revelation of the Father’s infinite mercy. This ‘first proclamation’ “must be the centre of all evangelizing activity and all efforts at Church renewal,” the Pope said, quoting his own words in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium.
Pope Francis invited the faithful to allow the Holy Spirit to be the source of all our being and our work. The Holy Spirit “enlivens and rejuvenates the Church,” he said. “With Him we must not fear, because He, who is harmony, always keeps creativity and simplicity together, inspires communion and sends out in mission, opens to diversity and leads back to unity.”
And he concluded his reflection with the prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit!” – Vatican News