Vatican City, 19 May 2013 (VIS) – The Mass that Pope Francis celebrated this morning in St. Peter’s Square in front of over 200,000 people was the concluding event of the two days of pilgrimage for the ecclesial movements, communities, and lay associations to Rome as part of the Year of Faith celebrations. In his homily, Francis noted that, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, “we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the Risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.”
“Newness,” he said, “always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme, and plan our lives … This is also the case when it comes to God. … It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives … We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, He brings newness—God always brings newness—and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel.
“This is not a question of newness for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom … The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions all through the day.”
“The Holy Spirit,” the pontiff continued, “would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. … Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality, and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization.
“But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. … Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community, and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are very dangerous! When we venture beyond the Church’s teaching and community … and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ.”
In his last point, the Pope observed that “early theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; He impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the goodness of the Gospel … The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.
“The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. … It is the Paraclete, the ‘Comforter’, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and urges us toward the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ.”