The first gift of every Christianexistence is the Holy Spirit. It is not one of many gifts, but rather thefundamental Gift. The Spirit is the gift that Jesus had promised to send us.Without the Spirit there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father,because the Spirit opens our heart to God’s presence and draws it into that“vortex” of love that is the very heart of God. We are not merely guests andpilgrims journeying on this earth; we are also guests and pilgrims in themystery of the Trinity. We are like Abraham, who, one day, welcoming threewayfarers in his own tent, encountered God. If we can truly invoke God, callinghim “Abba — Dad”, it is because the Holy Spirit dwells in us; he is the One whotransforms us deep within and makes us experience the soul-stirring joy ofbeing loved by God as his true children. All the spiritual work within ustowards God is performed by the Holy Spirit, this gift. He works within us tocarry Christian life forward towards the Father, with Jesus.

The Catechism, in this respect,says: “Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws uson the way of prayer by his grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recallingChrist, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invitesus to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and theend of every important action” (n. 2670). This is the work of the Spirit in us.He “reminds” us of Jesus and makes him present to us — we might say that he isour Trinitarian memory, he is the memory of God in us — and he makes it presentto Jesus, so that he is not reduced to a character from the past: that is, theSpirit brings Jesus to the present in our consciousness. If Christ were onlyfar away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world. Yes, we willremember Jesus, there, far away, but it is the Spirit that brings him today,now, at this moment, in our heart. But in the Spirit everything is brought tolife: the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of everytime and place. The possibility of encountering Christ, not only as ahistorical figure, is open. No: he attracts Christ to our hearts; it is theSpirit who makes us encounter Jesus. He is not distant, the Spirit is with us:Jesus still teaches his disciples by transforming their hearts, as he did withPeter, with Paul, with Mary Magdalene, with all the apostles. But why is Jesuspresent? Because it is the Spirit who brings him to us.

This is the experience of so manypeople who pray: men and women whom the Holy Spirit has formed according to the“measure” of Christ, in mercy, in service, in prayer, in catechesis…. It is agrace to be able to meet people like this: you realize that a different lifepulsates in them, their gaze sees “beyond”. Let us not think only of monks andhermits; they are also found among ordinary people, people who have woven along history of dialogue with God, sometimes of inner struggle, which purifiesfaith. These humble witnesses have sought God in the Gospel, in the Eucharistreceived and adored, in the face of a brother or sister in difficulty, and theysafeguard his presence like a secret flame.

Thefirst task of Christians is precisely to keep alive this flame that Jesusbrought to the earth (cf. Lk 12:49); and what is this flame? It is love, theLove of God, the Holy Spirit. Without the fire of the Spirit, the propheciesare extinguished, sorrow supplants joy, routine substitutes love, service turnsinto slavery. The image of the lighted lamp next to the Tabernacle, where theEucharist is reserved, comes to mind. Even when the church empties and eveningfalls, even when the church is closed, that lamp remains lit, and continues toburn; no one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord. This is how the Spirit, inour heart, is always present like that lamp. POPE FRANCIS