In his Mass on Friday, Pope Francis said eternal life begins when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and cautioned attendees against “dulling down” this identity by being hypocritical in our faith. “The Holy Spirit has sealed our hearts, and more, walks with us … this Spirit does not only give us identity, but it is also a down-payment of our inheritance. With him heaven begins.” the Pope said during his homily at Mass on Oct. 17. We are already living the reality of heaven, he said, because we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, “which is the very beginning of heaven: it was our down-payment; we have it in hand.” Pope Francis referred his listeners to the day’s first reading, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, in which he tells them they have received “the seal of the Holy Spirit” by believing in the Gospel. Our identity as Christians comes from this seal, he explained, which all of us have received in baptism. However, the Pope said having this pledge of heaven does not make Christians immune to temptation. “The Christian who doesn’t necessarily want to cancel out his identity, but to dull it down (is the) lukewarm Christian,” he noted. “He is Christian, yes, he goes to Mass on Sunday, yes,” but his identity is not visible in his life. “He also lives like a pagan. He can live like a pagan, but he is Christian. Being lukewarm. Dulling down our identity.” Pope Francis also referred to the sin of hypocrisy which, he said, Christ described to his disciples as the “leaven of the Pharisees (in which) I pretend to be a Christian, but I am not. I am not transparent.” He then turned to another passage written by Saint Paul, in which the apostle describes how there is another way, one which is lived according to the Holy Spirit, and which brings a variety of gifts. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control … this is our path to heaven, it is our road, so that heaven may begin here.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by reiterating how making heaven present here and now is possible through our Christian identity and the seal we have received from the Holy Spirit. “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be careful with this seal, with this our Christian identity, which is not only a promise, no, we have it already in hand our hand, we have a down payment.”
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