Pope Francis’ General Audience on a new series of catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit – St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City, April 09, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We begin today a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You know that the Holy Spirit constitutes the soul, the vital lymph of the Church and of every individual Christian: He is the Love of God who makes our heart His dwelling and enters into communion with us. The Holy Spirit is always with us, in us, in our heart.
The Spirit himself is “the gift of God” par excellence (cf. John 4:10), He is a gift of God who in turn communicates different spiritual gifts to one who receives Him. The Church singles out seven, a number which symbolically means fullness, completeness; they are those that are learned when we prepare ourselves for the Sacrament of Confirmation and which we invoke in the ancient prayer called the Sequence of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
1. According to this list, the first gift of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, wisdom. However, it is not simply about human wisdom, which is the fruit of knowledge and experience. The Bible recounts that Solomon, at the moment of his crowning as King of Israel, asked for the gift of wisdom (cf. 1 Kings 3:9). And wisdom in fact is this: It is the grace to be able to see everything with the eyes of God. It is simply this: to see the world, to see situations, circumstances, problems, everything with God’s eyes. This is wisdom. Sometimes we see things according to how they please us or according to the situation of our heart, with love or with hatred, with envy … No, this is not God’s eye. Wisdom is what the Holy Spirit does in us so that we see all things with God’s eyes. This is the gift of wisdom.
2. And this obviously stems from intimacy with God, from the intimate relationship that we have with God, from the relationship of children with the Father. When we have this relationship, the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of wisdom. When we are in communion with the Lord, it is as if the Holy Spirit transfigures our heart and makes it perceive all His warmth and predilection.
3. Then the Holy Spirit renders the Christian “wise.” This, however, not in the sense that he has an answer for everything, that he knows everything, but in the sense that he “knows” of God, he knows how God acts, he knows when something is of God and when it is not of God; he has this wisdom which God gives to our hearts. In this sense, the heart of the wise man has the taste and flavor of God. And how important it is that such Christians be in our communities! Everything in them speaks of God and becomes a beautiful and living sign of His presence and His love. And this is something we cannot improvise, which we cannot acquire by ourselves: It is a gift that God gives those who are docile to the Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit within us, in our heart; we can listen to Him or not listen to Him. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, He teaches us this way of wisdom, He gives us wisdom which is to see with God’s eyes, to hear with God’s ears, to love with God’s heart, to judge things with God’s judgment. This is the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives us, and we can all have it, we only need to ask the Holy Spirit for it.
Think of a mother at home with the children, that when one does something, the other thinks of something else, and the poor mother goes from one place to the other with the problems of the children. And when mothers are tired and shout at the children, is that wisdom? To shout at children – I ask you – is that wisdom? What do you say: is it wisdom or not? No! Instead, when the Mother picks up the child and reproves him gently and says to him: “This isn’t done because…”, and she explains it to him with much patience, is this the wisdom of God? Yes! It is what the Holy Spirit gives us in life! Then in marriage, for instance, the two spouses – the husband and the wife – quarrel, and then they don’t look at each other, or if they do look at one another they do so with a cross face: is this the wisdom of God? No! Instead they say: “well, the storm has passed, let’s make peace,” and they begin again to go forward in peace: is this wisdom? [the people: Yes!] See, this is the gift of wisdom. May it come to the home, may it come with the children, may it come with all of us!
And this is not learned: it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must ask the Lord to give us the Holy Spirit and the gift of wisdom, that wisdom of God that teaches us to look with God’s eyes, to feel with God’s heart, to speak with God’s words. And so, with this wisdom we go forward, we build the family, we build the Church, and we are all sanctified. Let us ask today for the grace of wisdom. And let us ask Our Lady, who is the Seat of Wisdom, for this gift: may she give us this grace. Thank you!