Saturday, June 8, 2019

Vigil Mass of Pentecost celebrated in Saint Peter's Square

At 6:00pm this evening (12:00pm EDT), in Saint Peter's Square, the Holy Father, Pope Francis celebrated the Vigil Mass for Pentecost.  Other Cardinals, Bishops and priests were also present to concelebrate with the Pope.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the Vigil Mass of Pentecost

Even tonight, on the eve of the last day of Easter time, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and he proclaims aloud: If anyone is thirsty, come to me, and drink whoever believes in me. As the Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him (Jn 7: 37-38).

It is the river of living water from the Holy Spirit that springs from the heart of Jesus, from his side which has been pierced by the spear (cf Jn 19:36), and which washes and fertilizes the Church, the mystical bride represented by Mary, the new Eve, at the foot of the cross.

The Holy Spirit springs from the merciful heart of the Risen Jesus to fill our hearts with a good measure, pressed down, full and overflowing with mercy (cf Lk 6:38) and transforms us into a Church-heart of mercy, that is, into a Mother with an open heart for everyone! How I wish that the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us most of all because of our mercy - not for other things -, for this more than humanity and tenderness, of which there is so much need! You would feel at home, the maternal home where you are always welcome and to which you can always come back. The place where you always feel welcomed, listened to, understood, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the kingdom of God ... something a mother knows how to do, even with her children who are all grown up.

The idea of the motherhood of the Church reminds me that 75 years ago, on 11 June 1944, Pope Pius XII carried out a special act of thanks and supplication to the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome. He did it in the church of Sant Ignatius, where the venerated image of the Madonna of the Divine Love had been taken. Divine Love is the Holy Spirit, which springs from the Heart of Christ. He is the spiritual rock that accompanies the people of God in the desert, so that drawing from the living water, they can quench their thirst along the way (cf 1 Cor 10.4). In the bush that is not consumed, the image of the Virgin Mary and Mother, there is the Risen Christ who speaks to us, communicates to us the fire of the Holy Spirit, invites us to descend among the people to hear their cry, send us to open new pathways to crossroads of freedom that lead to lands promised by God.

We know this: there is also today, as in every time, those who try to build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven (cf Gen 11.4). These are human projects, even our projects, carried out at the service of an ever greater I, towards a sky where there is no more room for God. God lets us do this for a while, so that we can understand up to what point of evil and sadness we are able to arrive without Him ... But the Spirit of Christ, the Lord of history, is looking forward to throwing everything up in the air, in order to make us start over! We are always a little tight with our eyes and our hearts; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; we come to convince ourselves that we have understood everything, that we have taken all the variables into consideration, that we have foreseen what will happen and how it will happen ... These are all our constructions through which we delude themselves into touching the sky. Instead, the Spirit breaks into the world from above, from the womb of God, there where the Son was born, and makes all things new.

What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome? We celebrate the primacy of the Spirit, which renders us speechless before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then startles us with joy: So this was what God had in mind for us!: This journey of the Church, this passage, this Exodus, this arrival in the promised land, the city of Jerusalem with the doors always open for everyone, where the various languages of man are composed in the harmony of the Spirit, because the Spirit is harmony.

And if we feel the presence of birth pangs, we understand that our moan, that of the people who live in this city and the groaning of the entire creation are nothing but the groaning of the Spirit itself: it is the birth of the new world. God is the Father and the mother, God is the midwife, God is the groan, God is the begotten Son in the world and we, the Church, are at the service of this birth. Not at the service of ourselves, not at the service of our ambitions, of so many dreams of power, no: in the service of this that God does, of these wonders that God accomplishes.

If pride and the presumed moral superiority do not dull our hearing, we will realize that under the cry of so many people there is nothing but a genuine groan of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that pushes once again not to be satisfied, to try to get back on the road; it is the Spirit that will save us from every diocesan 'reorganization' (Speech at the Diocesan Convention, 9 May 2019). The danger is this desire to confuse the novelties of the Spirit with a method of re-organizing everything. No, this is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upsets everything and makes us begin not from the beginning, but taking a new path.

Let us then take the Spirit by the hand and bring it to the heart of the city to hear its cry, its groan. To Moses, God says that this hidden cry of the People has reached Him: He heard it, he saw oppression and suffering ... And he decided to intervene by sending Moses to arouse and nourish the Israelites' dream of freedom and reveal to them the fact that this dream is his own will: to make of Israel a free People, his People, bound to Him by a covenant of love, called to bear witness to the Lord's fidelity to all peoples.

But for Moses to be able to fulfill his mission, God wants him to descend with him in the midst of the Israelites. The heart of Moses must become like that of God, attentive and sensitive to the sufferings and dreams of men, to those who cry in secret when they raise their hands towards Heaven, because they no longer have any earthly concerns. It is the groaning of the Spirit, and Moses must listen, not with the ear, with the heart. Today he asks us, Christians, to learn to listen with the heart. And the Master of this listening is the Spirit. Open your heart because He teaches us to listen with your heart. Open it.

And in order to listen to the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us go down, descend from our positions, descend among the brothers who live in our city, in order to listen to their need for salvation, the cry that reaches us and that we usually do not hear. It is not about explaining intellectual, ideological things. It makes me cry when I see a Church that believes that in order to be faithful to the Lord, to update itself, it is enough to look for purely functional pathways, roads that do not come from the Spirit of God. This Church does not know how to descend, and if it does not descend it is not the Spirit who is in command. It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all hearts, listening with the heart. Then we will really get going. Then we will feel within us the fire of Pentecost, which drives us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that Christ is the way that leads to the city of Heaven. This is why we need faith, brothers and sisters. Today we ask for the gift of faith to go down this path.
Original text in Italian

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