The first thing to note is that the Pope’s remarks apply to all of us. We all tend to resist the work of the Holy Spirit; we all tend to try to remain within our comfort zones. Pope Francis was preaching on St. Stephen’s words before his martyrdom: “You stiff-necked people…you always resist the Holy Spirit.” One way or another, we are all guilty of such resistance.
The second thing to note is the Pope’s references to two of Our Lord’s own criticisms, which seem to identify two levels of resistance to the Holy Spirit. Our Lord rebuked his disciples on the road to Emmaus: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Lk 24:25). And he rebuked the scribes and Pharisees generally, saying:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Mt 23:29-33)