By Linda Bordoni
On Pentecost Sunday Pope Francis invited the faithful to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit and go out in 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 the Acts of the Apostles that recounts what happened in Jerusalem 50 days after the Pasch of Jesus.
He recalled that the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, and the Virgin Mary was with them. They had been told by Risen Lord to remain in the city until they received the gift of the Spirit from on High.
This, the Pope said, “was revealed with a ‘sound’ they suddenly heard come from heaven, like the ‘rush of a mighty wind’ that filled the house they were in.”
It concerns, he explained, a real but also symbolic experience, and “it reveals that the Holy Spirit is like a strong and freely flowing wind. He cannot be controlled, stopped, nor measured; nor can his direction be foreseen.”
The Spirit is the Lord, the giver of life
The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis continued, cannot be understood within our human exigencies, in our methods and our preconceptions: “The Spirit proceeds from God the Father and from his Son Jesus Christ and bursts upon the Church – upon each one of us –, giving life to our minds and our hearts. As the Creed states: he is ‘the Lord, the giver of life’”.
The Pope went on to explain that on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were still disoriented and fearful, and lacked the courage to go out in the open.
“We too, at times, prefer to remain within the protective walls of our surroundings. But the Lord knows how to reach us and open the doors to our hearts. He sends upon us the Holy Spirit who envelops us and overpowers all our hesitations, tears down our defences, 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 continued, they were no longer as they were before, “but went out and began to preach that Jesus is risen, he is the Lord, in such a way that each one understood them in his or her own language.”
The Spirit changes the heart
The Pope said that the Spirit changed the heart and broadened the disciples' view enabling them “to communicate to everyone the great, limitless works of God, surpassing the cultural and religious confines within which they were accustomed to thinking and living.”
“The Holy Spirit puts different people in communication, achieving 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, “which makes us feel all the beauty and truth of God’s love in the dead and Risen Christ,” spurring us to go out, to witness to this Love that always precedes us with his mercy.”
“The world, he said, needs the courage, hope and faith of the disciples of Christ. It needs us to become yeast, leaven, salt and light in different situations and in the many cultural and social contexts. And the Holy Spirit alone creates all this.”