VATICAN CITY — Christians must be on guard against the spirit of worldliness that confuses and blurs the lines between what is good and what is evil, Pope Francis said.
While the Holy Spirit gives men and women “the strength to remain in the Lord,” there are still Christians who “even today identify the Holy Spirit only with the dove,” the pope said Jan. 7 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
“The Holy Spirit brings you to God and if you sin, the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you to get up,” he said. “But the spirit of the world brings you to corruption, to the point that you can’t distinguish between what is good and what is bad; it is all the same, everything is the same.”
In his homily, the pope reflected on the reading from 1 John 3:22-4:6, in which the apostle encourages the early Christian community to “not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God” or the world.
“What is this putting the spirit to the test?” the pope asked. “It is simply this: When you feel something, when you want to do something or you have an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself, ‘Does this feeling come from the spirit of God or the spirit of the world?'”
Too many Christians today, he said, “live without knowing what is happening in their own hearts” and “do not know how to examine” what is happening within them.
Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to examine their consciences and to take a moment during the day or before going to bed to reflect on “what has passed in my heart today.”
“What is the spirit that has moved within my heart?” he asked. “The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit that always leads me forward to the encounter with the Lord or the spirit of the world that distances me softly, slowly from the Lord and is a very, very slow slippery slope?”
“Let us ask for this grace of remaining in the Lord, and let us pray to the Holy Spirit so that we may remain in the Lord and that he may give us the grace of distinguishing the spirits, that is, what is moving within us,” the pope said.