Pope at Audience: The Holy Spirit makes us truly free

Basing his reflection on the Hebrew word for “Spirit”, Pope Francis explains that the Third Person of the Trinity is able to make us truly free.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis began his catechesis on Wednesday with a reflection on the Name of the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in the Old Testament as Ruach, a Hebrew word meaning “breath, wind, or puff of air.”

This word, he said, contains “the first fundamental revelation about the Person and function of the Holy Spirit.”

Recalling the “roar of rushing wind” that accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Pope explained that the name Ruach expresses the “power” of the Holy Spirit, which like the wind is “an overwhelming and indomitable force… capable even of moving oceans.”

The freedom of the Holy Spirit

But “to discover the full meaning of the realities of the Bible,” the Pope continued, it is necessary to go beyond the Old Testament “and come to Jesus,” who emphasizes the freedom of the Spirit: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Like the wind, that cannot “be bridled, ‘bottled up,’ or put in a box, the Holy Spirit cannot be reduced to “concepts, definitions, theses, or treatises,” nor enclosed within “canons, institutions, or definitions.” The Spirit “creates and animates institutions, but cannot be ‘institutionalized’,” the Pope said.

Freedom to serve

At the same time, Pope Francis said, the freedom of the Spirit is not “a freedom to do what one wants, but the freedom to freely do what God wants!” This, he explained, “is a freedom that expresses itself in service, which appears to be the opposite, but is

Following St Paul, who exhorts Christians not to allow their freedom to become a pretext for the flesh, Pope Francis denounced the false freedom “that allows the rich to exploit the poor, the strong to exploit the weak, and everyone to exploit the environment with impunity.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by pointing out that the true freedom of the Spirit must come from Jesus, and inviting everyone to pray that, Jesus might make us “through His Holy Spirit, truly free men and women.”

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05 June 2024, 09:26

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