Faith is a gift that begins in our encounter with Jesus, a real, tangible person and not an intangible essence, ‘mist’ or ‘spray’. Our real encounter with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was the focus of Pope Francis Thursday morning celebrated with the Italian State Police who serve the Vatican area.
The Pope drew inspiration for his homily from the Gospel of John in which Jesus tells the crowd that “he who believes has eternal life”. He says the passage is an opportunity for us to examine our conscience. He noted that very often people say they generally believe in God. “But who is this God you believe in?” asked Pope Francis confronting the evanescence of certain beliefs with the reality of a true faith:
“An ‘all over the place – god, a ‘god-spray’ so to speak, who is a little bit everywhere but who no-one really knows anything about. We believe in God who is Father, who is Son, who is Holy Spirit. We believe in Persons, and when we talk to God we talk to Persons: or I speak with the Father, or I speak with the Son, or I speak with the Holy Spirit. And this is the faith. “
In the Gospel passage, Jesus also says that no one can come to him “unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” Pope Francis said that these words show that “to go to Jesus, to find Jesus, to know Jesus, is a gift” that God bestows on us.
The Pope said we see an example of this in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, where Christ sends Philip to explain the Old Testament in the light of the Resurrection to an officer of the court of the Queen of Egypt. That officer – observed Pope Francis – was not a “common man” but a royal treasurer and because of this, “we may think he was a bit attached to the money”, “a careerist.” Yet, said the Pope, when this individual listens to Philip speak to him of Jesus “he hears that it is good news”, “he feels joy,” to the point of being baptized in the first place they find water:
“Those who have faith have eternal life, they have life. But faith is a gift, it is the Father who gifts it. We must continue on this path. But if we travel this path, it is always with our own baggage – because we are all sinners and we all always have things that are wrong. But the Lord will forgive us if we ask for forgiveness, and so we should always press onwards, without being discouraged – but on that path what happened to the royal treasurer will happen to us too”.
Pope Francis, what is described in the Acts of the Apostles, after the officer discovers the faith we also happen to us: “And he went on his way rejoicing”:
“It is the joy of faith, the joy of having encountered Jesus, the joy that only Jesus gives us, the joy that gives peace: not what the world gives, but what gives Jesus. This is our faith. We ask the Lord to help us grow in this faith, this faith that makes us strong, that makes us joyful, this faith that always begins with our encounter with Jesus and always continues throughout our lives in our small daily encounters with Jesus. ”
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