“The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth”
Pope Francis against the backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica and dressed in scarlet vestments, celebrated Mass on Pentecost Sunday. In his homily, the Holy Father began by focusing on Sunday’s readings saying that, “the word of God, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit. Expanding on this theme of the Spirit, Pope Francis said that, 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. Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”.
Today’s world Pope Francis stressed, “needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit.” Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit, he said, means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit, the Pope continued, “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.” He underlined that 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.”
The Holy Father explained to those gathered that, “the gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth”. The Holy Spirit, he went on to say, “whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same.” Therefore, the Pope said, respect for creation, is a requirement of our faith and the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, he added, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect. Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed that strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, we would be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.
Below is the Vatican’s English translation the Pope’s homily on Pentecost Sunday
“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you… Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22). 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 (cf. 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 and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, 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 the Spirit: he guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).
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 (cf. 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, of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.
The gift of the Holy Spirit 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 (cf. 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 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, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).
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 (cf. 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 programme 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. The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “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 and his many gifts, may we be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.
Regina Coeli Address – Pentecost Sunday
Following Mass on this Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli expressed serious concerned over the plight of migrants in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman sea in Southeast Asia. More than 3,600 people, around half of them from Bangladesh and the others, minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, have come ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10. But thousands more are reported to be trapped at sea in desperate conditions.
The Holy Father spoke of his appreciation for the efforts being made by those countries that have expressed a willingness to welcome those people who are facing great suffering and danger. He also encouraged the international community to provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance.
Pope Francis, after the recitation of the Regina Coeli also recalled Sunday, the one hundreth anniversary of Italy’s entry into World War I, describing the conflict as “useless slaughter”. He prayed for the victims, asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace. The Pope then recalled Saturday’s Beatification’s of an Archbishop and Nun in El Salvador and Kenya.
Firstly, he remembered Archbishop Oscar Romero, of San Salvador, killed in hatred of the faith while celebrating the Eucharist. This zealous pastor, he said an example of Jesus, chose to be among his people, especially the poor and the oppressed, even at the cost of his life. He also remembered, Italian nun, Sister Irene Stefani, of the Consolata Missionaries, who served the Kenyan people, he said, with joy, mercy and tender compassion.
The Pope underlined that the heroic example of these blesseds inspire in each of us the fervent desire to be witnesses to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice.