Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
After the catechesis on Baptism, these days that follow the solemnity of Pentecost invite us to reflect on the testimony that the Spirit raises in the baptized, putting their lives in motion, opening it to the good of others. Jesus entrusted to his disciples a great mission: "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world" (cf. Mt 5: 13-16). These are images that make us think of our behavior, because both the deficiency and the excess of salt make food disgusting, just as the lack or the excess of light prevent us from seeing. Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world, is only the Spirit of Christ! And this is the gift we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation or Confirmation, on which I wish to stop and reflect with you. It is called "Confirmation" because it confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1289); as well as "Confirmation", from the fact that we receive the Spirit through anointing with the "chrism" - oil mixed with perfume consecrated by the Bishop -, a term that refers to "Christ" the anointed of the Holy Spirit.
To renounce all to the divine life in Baptism is the first step; it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church, letting himself be involved in his mission in the world. This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides: "without his strength, nothing is in man" (cf. Sequence of Pentecost). Without the power of the Holy Spirit we can not do anything: it is the Spirit who gives us the strength to go forward. As the whole life of Jesus was animated by the Spirit, so too the life of the Church and of each of its members is under the guidance of the same Spirit.
Conceived by the Virgin through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus undertakes his mission after having come out of the water of the Jordan, he is consecrated by the Spirit who descends and remains on him (cf. Mk 1: 10, Jn 1:32). He declares it explicitly in the synagogue of Nazareth: it is beautiful how Jesus presents himself, what is the identity card of Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth! Let us listen to how he does it: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and for this he consecrated me with anointing, and sent me to bring good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18). Jesus presents himself in the synagogue of his village as the anointed one, the one who was anointed by the Spirit.
Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit and is the source of the Spirit promised by the Father (cf. Jn 15: 26; Lk 24: 39; Acts 1: 8, 2.33). In reality, on Easter evening the Risen One breathed on the disciples and told them: "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20,22); and on the day of Pentecost the power of the Spirit descends on the Apostles in extraordinary form (cf. Ac 2: 1-4), as we know.
The "Breath" of the Risen Christ fills the lungs of the Church with life; and indeed the mouths of the disciples, "filled with the Holy Spirit", open themselves to proclaim to all the great works of God (cf. Acts 2: 1-11).
Pentecost - which we celebrated last Sunday - is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, that Pentecost is the missionary impulse to consume the life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God. If the Spirit works in every sacrament, it is especially in the Confirmation that "the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as their Gift" (Paul VI, Const. Ap., Divinae consortium naturae). And in the moment of making the anointing, the Bishop says this word: "Receive the Holy Spirit that has been given to you as a gift": it is the great gift of God, the Holy Spirit. And we all have the Spirit inside. The Spirit is in our heart, in our soul. And the Spirit guides us in life because we become the right salt and the right light for men.
If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit to immerse ourselves in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit, consecrating us as his witnesses, partakers of the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father. The testimony given by the confirmed manifests the reception of the Holy Spirit and docility to his creative inspiration. I ask myself: how do we see that we have received the Gift of the Spirit? If we perform the works of the Spirit, if we speak words taught by the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 2:13). Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it.
INVITATION TO PRAYER FOR CATHOLICS IN CHINA
Tomorrow, May 24, is the annual feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", particularly venerated in the Sheshan shrine, near Shanghai, China.
This anniversary invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China. For them we pray to Our Lady, so that they may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they may carry out concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter.
Dearest disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even among the difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to God's will. Our Lady will never fail to help you and guard you with her motherly love.
I extend a cordial welcome to the faithful of the Italian language.
I am pleased to welcome the participants in the General Chapter of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart; the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Pauline Cooperators. I invite each one to support the voice of the Holy Spirit, through concrete actions of good.
I greet the Clericus Cup Group, the Parishes of San Nicola di Bari in Polvica di Chiaiano and the Pastoral Unit of Castel del Piano Pila in Perugia; Groups of students, especially those of the Mary Help of Christians School in Rome; the Faculty of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the La Sapienza University of Rome and the Volunteer Fire Department of Bondeno.
I entrust in particular to Our Lady the young, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds who are present here today. I urge everyone to value the prayer of the Holy Rosary in this month of May. We invoke the intercession of Mary, so that the Lord may grant peace and mercy to the Church and to the whole world.