ROME – Pope Francis closed a marathon of activities and messages on Sunday with a Mass broadcast live on the day of Pentecost, insisting that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God that unites and for whom distinctions such as that “conservative” or “progressive” were nonsense.
Referring to the letter of Saint Paul First Letter to the Corinthians, in which he says that “there are different kinds of gifts” in the Christian community “but the same spirit”, Pope Francis the words “diversity and unity” can , at first glance, make you blush, seem contradictory.
What Saint Paul meant, he said, is that “the Holy Spirit is he who gathers the multitude; and that the Church was born thus: we are all different, but united by the same Holy Spirit.
Noting that each of the apostles Jesus called were different – some were fishermen, some tax collectors, some were gentle in personality and others more excitable – Francis said, “Jesus did not change them; he did not make it a set of prepackaged models. He left their differences and now unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit.
“We too have our differences” of opinions, choices and ideas, he said, warning against the temptation to “always fiercely defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everyone and no ‘agreeing that with those who think like us “. he said.
“It is a faith created in our image; that is not what the Spirit wants ”, declared the Pope. “You might think that what unites us are our beliefs and our morals. But there is much more: our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit.
Francis urged Catholics to look at themselves with the eyes of the Holy Spirit, rather than the world, which “sees us only to the right or to the left”, while the Holy Spirit “sees us as sons and daughters. of the Father and the brothers. and sisters of Jesus.
“The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees the structures become more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters begging for mercy, ”he said, noting that by going out to share the gospel, the disciples could have separated into small groups based on common roots.
They could also have waited to feel better understand the teachings of Jesus, but that is not what happened, he said, insisting that the Holy Spirit “does not want memory. of the Master be cultivated in small groups locked 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. In the world, unless there is a tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message.
Pope Francis also pointed out that the Holy Spirit is a gift and a warning against attitudes such as narcissism, victimization and pessimism, which he believes are “enemies” of the Holy Spirit that keep people from coming out. receive it.
He concluded his homily by praying that God would free the Church “from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good”.
“Even worse than this crisis, it is the tragedy of wasting it by turning in on ourselves”, he said, and asked the Holy Spirit to “make us builders of unity” and to give the Church “the courage to come out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family.
Francis’ mass on Sunday closed an unusually busy weekend for the pontiff, despite restrictions still in place due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Before Sunday mass, which was broadcast live from Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis prayed a rosary on Saturday evening in the Lourdes grotto in the Vatican gardens to end the coronavirus. About 130 people were in attendance at the event, which marked the largest papal rally since Italy’s strict lockdown began in early March.
After the rosary, recited by doctors, nurses, priests and families directly affected by the coronavirus, Francis finished praying one of the two Marian prayers he published in early May for the coronavirus, asking God to ‘be close to those who are suffering from the pandemic, and have pity on those who have died.
He also posted several messages over the weekend, including a letter to priests in Rome for Pentecost, a video message for a virtual Pentecostal vigil hosted by the International Service for Charismatic Renewal (CHARIS), and a separate video message. for a Pentecostal initiative organized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
In his message to CHARIS, Francis declared that the Holy Spirit is needed “Today more than ever”.
“Today the world is suffering, it is hurt … It needs our testimony of the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus,” he said, insisting that “We cannot give back this testimony only with the power of the Holy Spirit “.
Faced with the aftermath of COVID-19, “we have before us the duty to build a new reality,” he said, insisting that “when we come out of this pandemic, we cannot continue to do this. what we did, and how we did it. No, everything must be different.
“All the sufferings will have been useless if we do not build among all a more just, more equitable, more Christian society, not only in name, but in reality, a reality which leads us to a Christian conduct”, a- he said, adding that “If we do not work to end the pandemic of poverty in the world, the pandemic of poverty in each of our countries, in the city where each of us lives, this time will have been in vain. “
In his message to Welby, sent as part of Welby’s “Your Kingdom Come” worldwide prayer initiative for Pentecost, Francis spoke of the comfort the Holy Spirit brought to those, like the disciples at the time. of Jesus, suffer from fear and uncertainty, saying, “The Spirit assures us that we are not alone, that God sustains us.”
“Dear friends, we must in our turn give the gift that we have received: we are called to share the comfort of the Spirit, the closeness of God”, he said, expressing his desire that in this task, Christians “may be more deeply united as witnesses of mercy to the human family so sorely tried today.
“We must be united to face all these pandemics that are spreading, that of the virus, but also those of hunger, war, contempt for life and indifference towards others,” he said. he said, adding: “It is only by walking together that we can go far.
In his long four-page letter to priests in the diocese of Rome, the Pope said he wanted to write to them because he was unable to celebrate his annual Chrism Mass, during which the holy oils used in the sacraments of the year to come are blessed and usually attended by priests in the diocese, which has been postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Despite the quarantines and the imposed distancing, Francis said he had heard many priests either by telephone or by e-mail, and “I could see, in these sincere dialogues, that the necessary distance was not synonymous with withdrawal or of self-isolation that anesthetizes, calms and turns off the mission.
Noting that priests in particular shared the fear and pain of their people, he said that, “soaked in the raging storm, you have strived to be present and to accompany your communities: you have seen it coming. the wolf and did not run away or abandon the flock.
“The complexity of what to face did not allow for ‘recipes’ or answers in the textbooks,” he said, calling the pandemic a moment of tears for priests, just as Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazare.
The thorny questions raised by the pandemic cannot be answered “simply by reopening various activities,” he said, stressing that there is an “indispensable” need to develop “attentive but full listening. of hope, serene but tenacious, constant but not anxious, which can prepare and open the way for the Lord’s call to us.
“As a priestly community, we are called to announce and prophesy the future, like the sentry announcing the dawn that brings a new day,” the Pope said, noting that it will be “something new, or this will be more, much more and worse than usual.
He underlined the need to undertake this task with “the realistic and creative imagination” of the faith, and exhorted the priests to let themselves be surprised “by our faithful and simple people, so often tried and torn, but also visited. by the mercy of the Lord. . “
He closed his letter encouraging priests to embody the words of Saint Paul, who in the scriptures said: “We are afflicted in all ways, but not compelled; puzzled, but not desperate; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Francis prayed that these words “spread like perfumed oil in the different corners of our city and thus awaken the discreet hope that many – tacitly – keep in their hearts”.
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