Pope Francis and the ‘Spirit of truth’

By Archbishop Michael Jackels
Witness Publisher

Archbishop Jackels

Pope Francis has come and gone. What to think about the visit? One thought:

The Holy Spirit guides the church. As Jesus taught: the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth (see John 6:13).

Under the Spirit’s guidance, our Holy Father Pope Francis was elected to pastor the universal church. Therefore, his teaching and example can be seen as the fruit of the cooperation of the pope with the Spirit.

With this in mind, inspired by trust in God, where the pope is leading deserves the acceptance and implementation of faith-filled Catholics.

Trust in Divine Providence inspires us to put the question to God: What are you trying to teach me through this person? What attitudes and actions are you trying to form in me?

Nothing that the pope proposes departs from the teachings of Christ and his church. On the contrary, it is inspired by those same teachings, especially the humility and charity of Jesus: be loathe to judge and condemn, be quick to forgive, be ready to care for those who cannot provide for or protect themselves, like the unborn, the homeless, victims of abuse and oppression, and be merciful (see Luke 6:36-38).

The pope challenges members of the church and all followers of Jesus to put the teachings and example of Christ first in their minds and hearts. Sometimes instead we put as first a theological system, or an ecclesial movement, or a liturgical expression, or political party affiliation, or being liberal or conservative, fitting Jesus in where we he fits our agenda.

And the pope challenges people still searching to find serenity in surrendering to the will of God, inspired by trust in the unconditional and unbounded love of God for each person. It is as if he says to the world: You want what inspires me to do this and to do it happily? Find it in Jesus.

I for one am positively giddy with excitement about the pope’s preaching and practice. I hear and see in it a call from God to strengthen my efforts at the imitation of the mind and heart of Christ. And when I fail, and I do, frequently, I will strike my breast in repentance, acknowledge my sinfulness, and try again until the day I die. Even in that regard the pope gives a compelling witness.

Thanks be to God for a pastor who has mercy for the proverbial lost sheep, not making it in its weakened state to walk back to the fold, but the good shepherd carrying it on his shoulders (see Luke 15:5).

I believe it was Cardinal Dolan, the Arch­bishop of New York, who, when asked what he thought of the election of Pope Francis, remarked: Yipee!