Unusual words always interest me and Pope Francis used one in his homily at the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II on Sunday that deserves some reflection.
“Parrhesia” is the word. The Holy Father used it in the following reference to the new saints, “These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”
It comes from the Greek παρρησία which means “to speak with freedom.” It is used 31 times in the New Testament, where it means to speak boldly and fearlessly with courage and without ambiguity. Pope Francis spoke of the “parrhesia of the Holy Spirit.”
It occurs to me that with the power of the Holy Spirit we each should courageously, boldly and fearlessly bear witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy. Isn’t that what each of us, as Catholic Christians, is called to do by our baptism and confirmation, strengthened by the Holy Spirit to live and proclaim Gospel values?
We look to saints as models of Christian faith whom we should emulate. We cannot emulate the lives of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II as popes, but we can emulate them as Christians and disciples of Jesus, who through perseverance and prayer overcame many obstacles on their journeys to God.
In the midst of our secular society where mediocrity is the norm and “I” is the only pronoun, it takes both courage and the “parrhesia” of the Holy Spirit to be true and faithful disciples. We are blessed to have another pope to show us by example how to do this. His name is Francis.
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