Pope Francis reflects on the action of the Holy Spirit who is “like a strong wind that blows freely” and invites the faithful to open their hearts to the gift of the Spirit and to come out to witness to the love of the Lord .
By Linda Bordoni
On Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis invited the faithful to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and to go out into the world with courage, hope and faith to witness to the love of the risen Jesus Christ.
Addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, the Pope reflected on the book of Acts of the Apostles which recounts what happened in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus’ Passover .
He recalled that the disciples were gathered in the Cenacle and that the Virgin Mary was with them. The risen Lord had told them to stay in the city until they received the gift of the Spirit from on High.
This, the Pope said, “was revealed with a ‘sound’ which they suddenly heard coming from heaven, like the ‘blow of a mighty wind’ which filled the house in which they were.”
It is, he explained, a real but also symbolic experience, and “it reveals that the Holy Spirit is like a strong, free-flowing wind. It cannot be controlled, stopped or measured; nor can its direction be predicted.
The Spirit is the Lord, the giver of life
The Holy Spirit, continued Pope Francis, cannot be understood in our human demands, in our methods and our preconceived ideas: “The Spirit proceeds from God the Father and from his Son Jesus Christ and bursts upon the Church – on each of us – bringing our minds and hearts to life. As the Creed says: he is ‘the Lord who gives life’”.
The Pope went on to explain that on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were still confused and fearful, and lacked the courage to come out into the open.
“We, too, sometimes prefer to stay within the protective walls of our environment. But the Lord knows how to reach us and open the doors of our hearts. He sends the Holy Spirit upon us who envelops us and overcomes all our hesitations, breaks down our defenses, dismantles our false certainties. The Spirit makes us new creatures, just as he did that day with the apostles,” he said.
And after having received the Holy Spirit, the Pope continues, they were not like before, “but they went out and began to preach that Jesus is risen, he is the Lord, in such a way that everyone understood them in his or her his own language.
The Spirit changes the heart
The pope said the Spirit changed the hearts and broadened the vision of the disciples, enabling them “to communicate to all the great limitless works of God, transcending the cultural and religious limits in which they were accustomed to think and live” .
“The Holy Spirit puts different people in communication, bringing about the unity and universality of the Church,” he said.
The Pope concluded by inviting the faithful to open their hearts to the gift of the Spirit, “who makes us feel all the beauty and the truth of God’s love in the dead and risen Christ”, urging us to go out, to bear witness to this Love which always precedes us with its mercy.
“The world, he said, needs the courage, the hope and the faith of the disciples of Christ. It needs us to become leaven, leaven, salt and light in different situations and in many cultural and social contexts. And the Holy Spirit creates all of this alone.