HOLY MASS IN THE PENTECOST SOLEMNITY
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
St. Peter's Square
Sunday, June 9, 2019
Pentecost arrived, for the disciples, after fifty uncertain days. On one side Jesus was Risen, full of joy they had seen and listened to him, and they had also eaten with Him. On the other side, they had not yet overcome doubts and fears: they were behind closed doors (see Jn 20: 19.26), with few perspectives, unable to announce the Living One. Then the Holy Spirit arrives and worries vanish: now the Apostles are not afraid even before those who arrest them; first worried about saving their lives, now they are no longer afraid of dying; first locked up in the Upper Room, now they announce to all the people. Until the Ascension of Jesus they awaited a Kingdom of God for them (see Acts 1,6), now they are eager to reach unknown borders. Before they had hardly ever spoken in public and when they had done so they had often made trouble, like Peter denying Jesus; now they speak with parresia to everyone. The story of the disciples, which seemed at the end of the line, is in short renewed by the youth of the Spirit: those young people who felt themselves to have arrived in uncertainty, were transformed by a joy that made them reborn. The Holy Spirit did this. The Spirit is not, as it might seem, an abstract thing; it is the most concrete, closest Person, the one who changes our lives. How does? Let's look at the Apostles. The Spirit has not made things easier for them, it has not performed spectacular miracles, it has not taken away problems and opponents, but the Spirit has brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that was lacking, his, because He is harmony.
Harmony within man. Inside, in the heart the disciples needed to be changed. Their story tells us that even seeing the Risen One is not enough if one does not welcome Him into the heart. It is not necessary to know that the Risen One is alive if one does not live like a Risen One. And it is the Spirit that makes Jesus live and live in us, that resurrects us inside. This is why Jesus, meeting his own, repeats: "Peace be with you" (Jn 20: 19.21) and gives the Spirit. Peace does not consist in fixing the problems outside - God does not take away from his tribulations and persecutions - but in receiving the Holy Spirit. In this consists peace, that peace given to the Apostles, that peace which does not free from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us. It is a peace that makes the heart similar to the deep sea, which is always quiet even when on the surface the waves shake. It is such a profound harmony that it can even transform persecutions into beatitudes. How many times, instead, we remain on the surface! Instead of looking for the Spirit, we try to stay afloat, thinking that everything will be better if that trouble passes, if I don't see that person anymore, if that situation improves. But this has remained on the surface: once a problem comes, another will come and the restlessness will return. It is not by distancing oneself from those who do not think like us, who will be serene, it is not resolving the trouble of the moment that we will be in peace. The turning point is the peace of Jesus, it is the harmony of the Spirit.
Today, in the haste that our time imposes on us, it seems that the harmony is marginalized: pulled from a thousand parts we risk bursting, prompted by a continuous nervousness that makes everything react badly. And the quick solution is sought, one pill behind the other to move forward, an emotion behind the other to feel alive. But above all we need the Spirit: it is He who puts order into the frenzy. He is peace in restlessness, trust in discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in old age, courage in trial. It is He who, among the stormy currents of life, fixes the anchor of hope. It is the Spirit who, as Saint Paul says today, prevents us from falling back into fear because it makes us feel loved children (see Romans 8:15). He is the Comforter, who transmits to us the tenderness of God. Without the Spirit the Christian life is frayed, deprived of the love that unites everything. Without the Spirit Jesus remains a character of the past, with the Spirit he is a living person today; without the Spirit Scripture is a dead letter, with the Spirit it is the Word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is a moralism without joy; with the Spirit it is life.
The Holy Spirit not only brings harmony within, but also outside, among men. It makes us Church, it composes different parts in a single harmonic building. Saint Paul explains it well that, speaking of the Church, he often repeats a word, "different": "different charisms, different activities, different ministries" (1 Cor 12: 4-6). We are different in the variety of qualities and gifts. The Spirit distributes them with imagination, without flattening, without homologating. And, starting from these differences, it builds unity. It does so, from creation, because it is a specialist in transforming chaos into cosmos, putting harmony. He is a specialist in creating diversity, riches; each his own, different. He is the creator of this diversity and, at the same time, he is the One who harmonizes, who gives harmony and gives unity to diversity. Only He can do these two things.
Today in the world the disharmonies have become real divisions: there are those who have too much and there are those who are nothing, there are those who try to live one hundred years and those who cannot come to light. In the computer age we are at a distance: more "social" but less social. We need the Spirit of unity, which will regenerate us as Church, as the People of God, and as a whole humanity. That will regenerate us. There is always the temptation to build "nests": to gather around one's group, to one's own preferences, the like with the like, allergic to any contamination. And from the nest to the sect the step is short, even within the Church. How many times one defines one's identity against someone or against something! The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, connects the distant, unites the distant, brings the dispersed back. He blends different shades in a single harmony, because he sees first the good, he looks at the man before his mistakes, at the people before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church, shapes the world as places of children and brothers. Sons and brothers: nouns that come before any other adjective. It is fashionable to add, unfortunately also insult. We can say that we live a culture of the adjective that forgets the noun of things; and also in a culture of insult, which is the first response to an opinion that I do not share. Then we realize that it hurts, to those who are insulted but also to those who insult. Making bad for evil, passing from victims to executioners, one does not live well. Those who live according to the Spirit, on the other hand, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Spiritual men render good for evil, respond to arrogance with meekness, malice with goodness, noise with silence, chatter with prayer, defeatism with a smile.
To be spiritual, to enjoy the harmony of the Spirit, we must put our gaze before our own. Then things change: with the Spirit the Church is the holy people of God, the mission the contagion of joy, not proselytism, the other brothers and sisters loved by the same Father. But without the Spirit the Church is an organization, the propaganda mission, the communion an effort. And many Churches make programmatic actions in this sense of pastoral plans, of discussions on all things. It seems that it is that road that unites us, but this is not the path of the Spirit, it is the path of division. The Spirit is the first and last need of the Church (see St. Paul VI, General Audience, 29 November 1972). He "comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected" (S. Bonaventura, Sermon for the fourth Sunday after Easter). Brothers and sisters, let us pray to him every day. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who transform fear into trust and closure into a gift, come into us. Give us the joy of the resurrection, the perennial youth of the heart. Holy Spirit, our harmony, You who make us one body, infuse your peace in the Church and in the world. Holy Spirit, make us craftsmen of harmony, sowers of good, apostles of hope.