The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
Solemnity of Pentecost 2016
Pope Francis's Homily at Mass in St Peter's Basilica
The Vatican, Sunday 15 May 2016 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
(homily begins at 37 mins 20 secs on video)
"“I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18).
The central purpose of Jesus' mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, says: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship, which enables us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rom 8, 14-15). Here we see our relationship renewed: the paternity of God is re-established in us thanks to the redemptive work of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father. The entire work of salvation is one of “re-generation”, in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen. In our own day also, we see various signs of our being orphans: in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness; in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence; in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer; in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death; in the effort to see others as “brothers” and “sisters”, since we are children of the same Father; and other such signs.
Being children of God runs contrary to all this and is our primordial vocation. We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA. But this filial relationship was ruined and required the sacrifice of God’s only-begotten Son in order to be restored. From the immense gift of love which is Jesus’ death on the cross, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon humanity like a vast torrent of grace. Those who by faith are immersed in this mystery of regeneration are reborn to the fullness of filial life.
“I will not leave you orphans”. Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus’ words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.
The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8, 9). Strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity. By means of our universal Brother – Jesus – we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything! We can see each other as brothers and sisters whose differences can only increase our joy and wonder at sharing in this unique fatherhood and brotherhood."
Papa Francesco's words at the Regina Caeli on the Feast of Pentecost
St Peter's Square - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, which completes the Season of Easter, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ. The liturgy invites us to open our mind and our heart to the gift of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised on several occasions to his disciples: the first and most important gift that he obtained for us with his Resurrection. Jesus himself asked the Father for this gift, as today’s Gospel Reading attests, during the Last Supper. Jesus says to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever” (Jn 14, 15-16).
These words remind us first of all that love for a person, and for the Lord, is shown not with words but with deeds; and also, “observing the commandments” should be understood in the existential sense, so as to embrace the whole of life. In fact, being Christian does not mean mainly belonging to a certain culture or adhering to a certain doctrine, but rather joining one’s own life, in all its aspects, to the person of Jesus and, through Him, to the Father. For this purpose Jesus promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Owing to the Holy Spirit, to the Love that unites the Father and the Son and proceeds from them, we may all live the very life of Jesus. The Spirit, in fact, teaches us all things, that is, the single indispensable thing: to love as God loves.
In promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus defines him as “another Counselor” (v 16), which means Paraclete, Advocate, Intercessor, in other words, the One who helps us, protects us, is at our side on the journey of life and in the struggle for good and that against evil. Jesus says “another Counselor” because He is the first, He himself, who became flesh precisely to take our human condition upon himself and free it from the slavery of sin.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit plays a role in teaching and remembrance. Teaching and remembrance. Jesus told us: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (v 26). The Holy Spirit does not bring a different teaching, but renders alive and brings into effect the teaching of Jesus, so that the passage of time may neither erase nor diminish it. The Holy Spirit instills this teaching in our heart, helps us to internalize it, making it become a part of us, flesh of our flesh. At the same time, he prepares our heart to be truly capable of receiving the words and example of the Lord. Every time the word of Jesus is received with joy in our heart, this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray the Regina Caeli together — for the last time this year —, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. May she obtain for us the grace to be deeply inspired by the Holy Spirit, to witness with evangelical simplicity to Christ, opening ourselves ever more fully to his love."
After the Regina Caeli:
"Dear brothers and sisters, today, in the highly appropriate context of Pentecost, the Message is being published for the next World Mission Day, which will be celebrated this year in the month of October. May the Holy Spirit give strength to all missionaries ad gentes and support the Church’s mission in the entire world. And may the Holy Spirit give us strong young people — boys and girls — who have the will to go and proclaim the Gospel. Let us ask this, today, of the Holy Spirit.
I greet all of you, families, parish groups, associations, pilgrims from Italy and from so many parts of the world, in particular from Madrid, Prague and Thailand; as well as members of the Korean Catholic Community of London.
I greet in a special way all those who took part in today’s “Celebration of Peoples”, on its 25th anniversary, in the Square of St John Lateran. May this celebration, a sign of the unity and diversity of cultures, help us to understand that this is the path to peace: to bring unity by respecting diversity.
I address a special thought to the Alpine Corps, gathered in Asti for their National Meeting. I exhort them to witness to mercy and hope, after the example of Blessed Don Carlo Gnocchi, of Blessed Br Luigi Bordino and of the Venerable Teresio Olivelli, whom the Alpine Corps honour with the holiness of their life.
I wish to all a happy Feast of Pentecost. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!"
Pope Paul VI - General Audience of 12/6/1974
"We turn out thoughts today towards an effect proper to Pentecost: the supernatural life produced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the visible, social and human body of Christ's disciples. This effect is the eternal youth of the Church... The human persons making up the Church undergo the fate of time; they are entombed in death. But this neither suspends nor interrupts the witness of the Church through the ages. As Jesus declared and promised: “I am with you always even to the end of the world” (Mt 28,20). He likewise gave Simon to understand the same thing when he gave him a new name: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the power of death will not prevail against it” (Mt 16,18).
Along with so many other people today we could immediately raise the objection: concerning the permanency of the Church, maybe, it has lasted twenty centuries; but it is precisely because it has lasted for so long that it is old... The Church, people say, is venerable because of its antiquity..., but it doesn't live now by that breathing that is always new: it is no longer young. This is a powerful objection...; a long treatise would be needed to reply. But for minds open to the truth it would be enough to say that the Church's continuation is synonymous with youth. “It is wonderful in our eyes” (Ps 118,23; Mt 21,42) : the Church is young.
What is most astonishing is that the secret of its youth is its unchanging continuation through time. Time does not cause the Church to age; it makes it grow, stimulating its life and fulness... True, all its members die just like other mortal beings; but the Church herself not only contains an invincible principle of immortality outside of history; she also possesses an incalculable force for renewal."