Pope Francis blesses a server with holy water as he celebrates Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Vatican City (VIS) – “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,”,said the Holy Father during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the solemnity of Pentecost.
Pope Francis repeated several times during his homily that the Holy Spirit, today as yesterday, guides, renews and bears fruit, acting through people and communities, and making them capable of receiving God, “capax Dei” the Holy Fathers have affirmed.
“On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them His Spirit; 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. … 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.”
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,” and explains to them that its action will bring them to understand ever more clearly what He, the Messiah, has said and done, especially with 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 paralysed 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.”
The Holy Spirit also renews the earth. “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. 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 of God, 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.”
“The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit,” exclaimed the Pope at the end of his homily. “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.’ 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.”