HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
St. Peter's Square
Saturday, 8 June 2019
Also tonight, the eve of the last day of Easter time, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and 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 his womb "(Jn 7: 37-38).
It is "the river of living water" of the Holy Spirit that springs from the womb of Jesus, from his side pierced by the spear (see Jn 19:36), and which washes and fertilizes the Church, mystical bride represented by Mary, new Eve, at the foot of the cross.
The Holy Spirit springs from the womb of mercy of the Risen Jesus, fills our womb with a "good measure, pressed, full and overflowing" with mercy (see Lk 6:38) and transforms us into a Church-womb of mercy, that is, in a "Mother with an open heart" for everyone! How I wish that the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us for this more than 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 where you can always come back. She would always feel welcomed, listened to, well interpreted, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the kingdom of God ... How a mother knows how to do, even with her children now grown up.
This thought 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 'Ignazio, 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 can quench their thirst along the way (see 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 the cry, send us to open the I cross paths of freedom that lead to lands promised by God.
We know it: there is also today, as in every time, those who try to build "a city and a tower that reaches heaven" (see Gen 11.4). It is human projects, even our projects, made at the service of an ever greater "I", towards a sky where there is no more room for God. God lets us do it for a while, so that we can experience until at what point of evil and sadness we are able to arrive without Him ... But the Spirit of Christ, Lord of history, is looking forward to throwing everything up, to make us start over! We are always a little "tight" with our eyes and heart; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; we come to convince ourselves that we have understood everything, to have taken all the variables into consideration, to have foreseen what will happen and how it will happen ... They are all our constructions that 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 makes us dumb before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then startle with joy: "Then this was what God had for us!": This journey of Church, this passage, this Exodus , this arrival to the promised land, the city-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 have the birth pangs present, 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 does.
"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 from 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 dream of freedom of the Israelites and reveal them that this dream is his own will: to make of Israel a free People, its 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 holdings on earth. 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 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, 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 to be faithful to the Lord, to update itself when it looks for purely functionalistic roads, 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 commands . It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, 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 it is Christ 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.