On the solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis urges Christians to ask the Holy Spirit to free them from the paralysis of selfishness and to give of themselves by serving and doing good. Reading included.
By Robin Gomes
Pope Francis celebrated the solemnity of Pentecost with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, in the presence of a limited number of worshipers, as the health protocols for the Covid-19 pandemic are still in place in Italy and the Vatican .
During the Mass on May 31, he exhorted the Holy Spirit to make Christians builders of unity. “Give us the courage to come out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family,” he prayed.
Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary and the Apostles in Jerusalem, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2: 1-22), is considered the birth of the Church.
Unity in diversity
Pope Francis delivered a homily stressing that despite the diversity of origins and ethnicities among Christ’s disciples in the early Church, the Holy Spirit achieves unity by making them realize that they are primarily children of God.
Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians attests to this fact when he says: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.
Coming in our time, Pope Francis said that we too have our differences, such as opinions, choices, sensitivities. But the temptation to fiercely defend our ideas as good for all, the Pope warned, is “a faith created in our image”, “not what the Spirit wants”.
Unity as beloved children of God
Much more than our beliefs and our morals, said the Pope, the Spirit unites us as “beloved children of God”, and “that we have one Lord – Jesus – and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters! ”
The Spirit loves us and knows each person’s place in the grand scheme of things, said the Pope. “We are not pieces of blown confetti, we are rather irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.”
Self-giving and proclamation
Looking more closely at the day of Pentecost, Pope Francis said that the first task of the Church is proclamation. The Spirit does not want the Apostles to be locked up in upper rooms where it is easy to “nest”. On the contrary, it “opens doors and pushes us to go beyond what has already been said and done, beyond the confines of a timid and suspicious faith”.
After Pentecost, one thing that moved the Apostles forward, the Pope said, was “the desire to give what they received”. In the Church, the Pope said, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message.
The “secret of the unity” of the Holy Spirit, underlined the Pope, is a gift, as He Himself is a gift. Therefore, it is important to believe that “God is a gift,” that he does not act by taking away, but by giving.
If we realize that what we are is due to his free and unmerited gift, then “we too will want to give our life a gift.” “By loving humbly, by serving freely and with joy, we will offer the world the true image of God. ”
Three enemies of self-sacrifice
However, in this gift of self, the Pope noted that there are three enemies: narcissism, victimization and pessimism.
Narcissism, said the Pope, we only care about how we can profit from it. In this time of pandemic, the Pope lamented the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others.
Victim, he says, is just as dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbors – that no one understands them, that no one is going through what they are going through and that everyone is against them. In the current crisis, he noted, we are experiencing how ugly victimization is.
Pessimism is an endless complaint that “nothing is going well in society, politics, the Church…”. A pessimist gets angry with the world, but just sits and does nothing. In the current crisis, the Pope has declared that it is damaging to “see everything in its worst light and to keep saying that nothing will come back as before”.
The famine of hope
“When someone thinks this way,” observed the Pope, “the only thing that certainly doesn’t come back is hope”. “We are living in a famine of hope,” he said, “and we must appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. “” We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us from narcissism, victimization and pessimism. “