By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
In his homily on Pentecost Sunday delivered before thousands of the faithful gathered in St Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis focused on the action of the Holy Spirit expressed in the Scripture readings from the Acts of the Apostles, St Paul's letter to the Galatians, and St John’s Gospel.
The Holy Spirit changes hearts
The Spirit transforms the hearts of the timid disciples from fearful men, “huddled behind closed doors”, to bold men who “bear witness to [Jesus]” (Jn 15:27), the Pope said. His action frees hearts, impels service, guides people in new directions, and makes “the lukewarm thrill to new dreams. That is what it means to change hearts”, Pope Francis said.
The Holy Spirit gives life
Pope Francis suggests that since the Holy Spirit provokes change that we turn to Him for a “powerful ‘jolt’ ” when “we are in need of real change”. He is “the power of God” and the “giver of life”. “How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life! To say when we wake up each morning: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day’ ”, the Pope said.
The Holy Spirit changes situations
The Holy Spirit “penetrates the most unimaginable situations”, Pope Francis continued. He does so today just as he did in the Acts of the Apostles, in which He is the “main character”. He drives Philip from Jerusalem to Gaza, then to Azotus, then to Caesarea (Acts 8:26-40), “in constantly new situations to spread God’s newness”. Paul is “compelled by the Spirit” (Acts 20:22), traveling “far and wide” to bring the Gospel, the Pope said.
The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church
Pope Francis recalled that as the soul of the Church, the Holy Spirit renews her with hope, fills her with joy, and causes her to blossom with new life. Even after 2000 years, “the Spirit reminds the Church that…she is always the youthful bride with whom the Lord is madly in love”.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that the Spirit acts on the Church with “centripetal and centrifugal” forces. We are centered deep within with His centripetal force which brings unity, peace and strength amid affliction and temptation, he said. The Holy Spirit pushes us outward toward the peripheries with a centrifugal force. Thus, in the Pope’s words, “those who live by the Spirit…find themselves pulled both towards God and towards the world".