Entry 0407: Reflections on Pentecost Sunday
by Pope Francis (Updated 20 May 2017)
On four occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on Pentecost Sunday, on 19 May 2013, 8 June 2014, 24 May 2015, and 15 May 2016. Here are the texts of four brief reflections prior to the recitation of the prayer Regina Caeli and four homilies delivered by the Holy Father on these occasions.
Saint Peter’s Square, Pentecost Sunday, 19 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This celebration of faith is drawing to a close. It began yesterday with the Vigil and culminated this morning with the Eucharist. It was a renewed Pentecost that transformed St Peter’s Square into an Upper Room beneath the open sky. We have relived the experience of the nascent Church, harmonized in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus (see Acts 1:14). In the variety of charisms we too have experienced the beauty of unity, of being one. Moreover, this is an action of the Holy Spirit who creates unity in the Church ever anew.
I would like to thank all the movements, associations, communities and ecclesial groups. You are a gift and a treasure in the Church! This is what you are! I thank all of you who have come from Rome and from so many parts of the world. Always convey the power of the Gospel! Do not be afraid! Always feel joy and enthusiasm for communion in the Church! May the Risen Lord be with you constantly and may Our Lady protect you!
Let us remember in our prayers the populations of Emilia Romagna hit by the earthquake on 20 May last year. I also pray for the Federazione Italiana delle Associazioni di Volontariato in Oncologia [Italian Federation of Volunteer Associations in Oncology]
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 19 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.
But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven “like the rush of a violent wind,” and filled the house; then the “tongues as of fire” which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit,” who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all “began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They all experience something new, something which had never happened before: “We hear them, each of us, speaking our own language.” And what is it that they are they speaking about? “God’s deeds of power.”
In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.
1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, program and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness—God always brings newness—and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.
2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: The Holy Spirit himself is harmony, “Ipse harmonia est.” He is indeed harmony. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are very dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community—the Apostle John tells us in his Second Letter—and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (see 2 Jn v. 9). So, let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?
3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever” (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter,” who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission? Today let us remember these three words: newness, harmony and mission.
Today’s liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!” Amen.
St. Peter’s Square, Pentecost Sunday, 8 June 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room. Like Easter, this event took place on a preexisting Jewish feast and ended with a surprise. The Acts of the Apostles describes the signs and fruits of that extraordinary outpouring: the strong wind and tongues of fire; fear disappeared, leaving courage in its place; tongues melted and everyone understood the message. Wherever the Spirit of God reaches, everything is reborn and transfigured. Pentecost is the event that signals the birth of the Church and her public manifestation; and two features strike us: the Church astounds and confuses.
A fundamental element of Pentecost is astonishment. Our God is a God of astonishment, this we know. No one expected anything more from the disciples: after Jesus’ death they were a small, insignificant group of defeated orphans of their Master. There occurred instead an unexpected event that astounded: the people were astonished because each of them heard the disciples speaking in their own tongues, telling of the great works of God (see Acts 2:6-7, 11). The Church born at Pentecost is an astounding community because, with the force of her arrival from God, a new message is proclaimed—the Resurrection of Christ—with a new language—the universal one of love. A new proclamation: Christ lives, he is risen; a new language: the language of love. The disciples are adorned with power from above and speak with courage—only minutes before they all were cowardly, but now they speak with courage and candor, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, the Church is called into being forever: capable of astounding while proclaiming to all that Jesus Christ has conquered death, that God’s arms are always open, that his patience is always there awaiting us in order to heal us, to forgive us. The risen Jesus bestowed his Spirit on the Church for this very mission.
Take note: if the Church is alive, she must always surprise. It is incumbent upon the living Church to astound. A Church which is unable to astound is a Church that is weak, sick, dying, and that needs admission to the intensive care unit as soon as possible!
Some in Jerusalem would have liked for Jesus’ disciples, frozen in fear, to remain locked inside so as not to create confusion. Even today, many would like this from the Christians. Instead, the risen Lord pushes them into the world: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21). The Church of the Pentecost is a Church that won’t submit to being powerless, too “distilled.” No, she doesn’t submit to this! She doesn’t want to be a decoration. She is a Church that doesn’t hesitate to go out, meet the people, proclaim the message that’s been entrusted to her, even if that message disturbs or unsettles the conscience, even if that message perhaps brings problems and sometimes leads to martyrdom. She is born one and universal, with a distinct identity, but open, a Church that embraces the world but doesn’t seize it; she sets it free, but embraces it like the colonnade in this Square: two arms that open to receive, but that don’t close to detain. We Christians are free, and the Church wants us free!
We turn to the Virgin Mary, who in that Pentecost morning was in the Upper Room, the Mother with her children. In her, the force of the Holy Spirit truly accomplished “great things” (Lk 1:49). She herself said so. May she, the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Church, obtain through her intercession a renewed outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the Church and upon the world.
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 8 June 2014
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).
Speaking to the Apostles at the Last Supper, Jesus said that after he left this world he would send them the gift of the Father, that is, the Holy Spirit (see Jn 15:26). This promise was powerfully fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, who were gathered in the Upper Room. This extraordinary outpouring was not limited solely to that moment, but was an event that was renewed and still continues to be renewed. Christ glorified at the right hand of the Father continues to fulfill his promise, sending upon the Church the life-giving Spirit, who teaches us, reminds us, and lets us speak.
The Holy Spirit teaches us: he is the Interior Master. He guides us along the right path, through life’s challenges. He teaches us the path, the way. In the early times of the Church, Christianity was called “the way” (see Acts 9:2), and Jesus himself is the Way. The Holy Spirit teaches us to follow him, to walk in his footprints. More than a master of doctrine, the Holy Spirit is a master of life. And he surely takes part in life as well as in knowledge, but within the broadest and most harmonious horizons of Christian existence.
The Holy Spirit reminds us, he reminds us of all that Jesus said. He is the living memory of the Church, and when he reminds us, he helps us to understand the words of the Lord.
This remembrance in the Spirit and by virtue of the Spirit is not reduced to a mnemonic fact; it is an essential aspect of Christ’s presence within us and within his Church. The Spirit of truth and charity reminds us of all that Christ said, and helps us to enter ever more fully into the meaning of his words. We all have this experience: one moment, in any situation, there is an idea and then another connects with a passage from Scripture. It is the Spirit who leads us to take this path: the path of the living memory of the Church. And he asks us for a response: the more generous our response, the more Jesus’ words become life within us, becoming attitudes, choices, actions, testimony. In essence the Spirit reminds of the commandment of love, and calls us to live it.
A Christian without memory is not a true Christian but only halfway there: a man or a woman, a prisoner of the moment, who doesn’t know how to treasure his or her history, doesn’t know how to read it and live it as salvation history. With the help of the Holy Spirit, however, we are able to interpret interior inspirations and life events in light of Jesus’ words. And thus, within us grows the knowledge of memory, knowledge of the heart, which is a gift of the Spirit. May the Holy Spirit rekindle the Christian memory within all of us! And there that day with the Apostles was our Lady of Memory, who from the beginning meditated on all those things in her heart. Mary, our Mother, was there. May she help us on this path of memory.
The Holy Spirit teaches us, reminds us, and—another aspect—lets us speak, with God and with men. There are no muted Christians, mute of soul; no, there’s no place for this.
He lets us speak with God in prayer. Prayer is a gift that we freely receive; dialoguing with him in the Holy Spirit, who prays in us and allows us to address God, calling him Father, Dad, Abba. (See Rm 8:15; Gal 4:4); and this is not merely an “expression” but a reality: we truly are children of God. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rm 8:14).
He lets us speak in the act of faith. Without the Holy Spirit, none of us is able to say: “Jesus is Lord”—we heard this today. It is the Spirit who lets us speak with people in fraternal dialogue. He lets us speak with others, recognizing them as brothers and sisters; to speak with friendship, with tenderness, with compassion, understanding the heartaches and hopes, the sorrows and joys of others.
But there’s more: The Holy Spirit also lets us speak to men through prophecy, making us humble and docile “channels” of God’s Word. Prophecy is made with candor, to openly demonstrate the contradictions and injustices, but always with compassion and constructive intent. Charged with the Spirit of love, we can be signs and instruments of God who loves, who serves, who gives life.
In summary: The Holy Spirit teaches us the way; he reminds us of and explains Jesus’ words; he lets us pray and say “Father” to God, and lets us speak to men and women in fraternal dialogue and lets us speak in prophecy.
The day of Pentecost, when the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” was the baptism of the Church, which was born in “going out,” in “departure” to proclaim the Good News to everyone. The Mother Church, who departs in order to serve. Let us remember the other Mother, our Mother who sets out in haste to serve. Mother Church and Mother Mary: both virgins, both mothers, both women. Jesus was peremptory with the Apostles: do not depart from Jerusalem, but wait until you have received the power of the Holy Spirit from above (see Acts 1:4-8). Without Him there is no mission, there is no evangelization. For this, with the whole Church, with our Mother Catholic Church, let us implore: Come, Holy Spirit!
Saint Peter’s Square, Pentecost Sunday, 24 May 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
The feast of Pentecost makes us relive the Church’s beginnings. The Book of the Acts of the Apostles tells that, 50 days after Easter, in the house where Jesus’ disciples were, “suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (2:2-4). The disciples are completely transformed by this outpouring: fear is supplanted by courage, imperviousness gives way to the proclamation, and all doubt is driven away by faith filled with love. It is the “baptism” of the Church, which thus began her journey in history, guided by the power of the Holy Spirit.
This event, which changes the heart and life of the Apostles and the other disciples, is immediately felt outside the Upper Room. Indeed, that door kept locked for 50 days is finally thrust open and the first Christian Community, no longer closed in upon itself, begins speaking to crowds of different origins about the mighty works that God has done (see v. 11), that is to say, of the Resurrection of Jesus who was crucified. Each one present hears his own language being spoken by the disciples. The gift of the Holy Spirit restores the linguistic harmony that was lost in Babel, prefiguring the universal mission of the Apostles. The Church is not born isolated, she is born universal, one, and Catholic, with a precise identity, open to all, not closed, an identity which embraces the entire world, excluding no one. Mother Church closes her door in the face of no one, no one! Not even to the greatest sinner, to no one! This is through the power, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Mother Church opens, opens wide her doors to everyone because she is mother.
The Holy Spirit at Pentecost pours into the hearts of the disciples and begins a new season: the season of testimony and fraternity. It is a season which comes from above, comes from God, like the tongues of fire that rest on the head of each disciple. It was the flame of love which burns all harshness; it was the tongue of the Gospel which surpasses manmade borders and reaches the hearts of the multitudes, without distinction of language, race or nationality. As on that day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out constantly even today on the Church and on each one of us so we may step outside of our mediocrity and our imperviousness and communicate to the entire world the merciful love of the Lord. Communicating the merciful love of the Lord: this is our mission! We too have been given the gift of the “tongue” of the Gospel and the “fire” of the Holy Spirit, so that while we proclaim Jesus risen, living and present in our midst, we may warm our heart and also the heart of the peoples drawing near to Him, the way, truth and life.
Let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, who was present as Mother in the midst of the disciples in the Upper Room: she is the mother of the Church, the mother of Jesus became mother of the Church. Let us entrust ourselves to Her that the Holy Spirit may descend in abundance upon the Church of our time, fill the hearts of all the faithful and kindle in them the fire of his love.
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 24 May 2015
“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22); this is what Jesus says to us. The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (see Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple, there too as Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace, with her smile, with her maternity, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.
The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with himself; the Spirit makes them capable of recipere Deum [receiving God], capax Dei [with the capacity for God], as the holy Church Fathers say. And what does the Holy Spirit do with this new capability which he gives us? He guides us into all the truth (see Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (see Gal 5:22-23). He guides, he renews and he makes fruitful.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (see Jn 16:13). Indeed, he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth,” and explains to his disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to his death and resurrection. To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first, they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand “all the truth:” that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, the Lord of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.
Then the Holy Spirit renews—guides and renews—renews the earth. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit, and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same. Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (see Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam—the man formed from the earth—allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature, we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10). He guides, he renews and he gives; he gives fruits.
In the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wants to show the “fruits” manifested in the lives of those who walk in the way of the Spirit (see Gal 5:22). On the one hand, he presents “the flesh,” with its list of attendant vices: the works of selfish people closed to God. On the other hand, there are those who by faith allow the Spirit of God to break into their lives. In them, God’s gifts blossom, summed up in nine joyful virtues which Paul calls “fruits of the Spirit.” Hence his appeal, at the start and the end of the reading, as a program for life: “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:6, 25).
The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism—seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites;” by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. However, the world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul lists them: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Spirit—who guides, who guides us into the truth, who renews us and the whole earth, and who gives us his fruits—strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts, may we be able to battle uncompromisingly against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption, which continues to spread in the world day after day, by devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.
Saint Peter’s Square, Pentecost Sunday, 15 May 2016
Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, which completes the Season of Easter, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ. The liturgy invites us to open our mind and our heart to the gift of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised on several occasions to his disciples: the first and most important gift that he obtained for us with his Resurrection. Jesus himself asked the Father for this gift, as today’s Gospel Reading attests, during the Last Supper. Jesus says to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever” (Jn 14:15-16).
These words remind us first of all that love for a person, and for the Lord, is shown not with words but with deeds; and also, “observing the commandments” should be understood in the existential sense, so as to embrace the whole of life. In fact, being Christian does not mean mainly belonging to a certain culture or adhering to a certain doctrine, but rather joining one’s own life, in all its aspects, to the person of Jesus and, through Him, to the Father. For this purpose, Jesus promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Owing to the Holy Spirit, to the Love that unites the Father and the Son and proceeds from them, we may all live the very life of Jesus. The Spirit, in fact, teaches us all things, that is, the single indispensable thing: to love as God loves.
In promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus defines him as “another Counselor” (v. 16), which means Paraclete, Advocate, Intercessor, in other words, the One who helps us, protects us, is at our side on the journey of life and in the struggle for good and that against evil. Jesus says “another Counselor” because He is the first, He himself, who became flesh precisely to take our human condition upon himself and free it from the slavery of sin.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit plays a role in teaching and remembrance. Teaching and remembrance. Jesus told us: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (v. 26). The Holy Spirit does not bring a different teaching, but renders alive and brings into effect the teaching of Jesus, so that the passage of time may neither erase nor diminish it. The Holy Spirit instills this teaching in our heart, helps us to internalize it, making it become a part of us, flesh of our flesh. At the same time, he prepares our heart to be truly capable of receiving the words and example of the Lord. Every time the word of Jesus is received with joy in our heart, this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray the Regina Caeli together—for the last time this year—invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. May she obtain for us the grace to be deeply inspired by the Holy Spirit, to witness with evangelical simplicity to Christ, opening ourselves ever more fully to his love.
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 15 May 2016
The central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8:14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation,” in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.
Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed into this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.
“I will not leave you orphans.” Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.
The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother—Jesus—we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood.
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
* * * * *
For reflections on Pentecost Sunday
by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.
* * * * *
* * * * *
For reflections on Pentecost Sunday
by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.
* * * * *