|Solemn celebration presided over by Pope Benedict XVI.|
Rome, June 13, 2006. On Sunday morning, June 4, the
solemnity of Pentecost, the Legionaries of Christ and members
of the Regnum Christi Movement participated in the mass
celebrated by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square.
homily, the Pope explained the meaning of this solemnity:
day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended with power on
the apostles; thus began the mission of the Church in
the world. Jesus himself had prepared the Eleven for this
mission by appearing to them on several occasions after his
resurrection (cf. Acts 1:3).
”Before the ascension to heaven, "he
charged them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for
the promise of the Father" (cf. Acts 1:4-5); that is,
he asked them to stay together to prepare themselves to
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And they gathered
in prayer with Mary in the Cenacle, while awaiting this
promised event (cf. Acts 1:14).
“To stay together was the condition
Jesus placed to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit;
the premise of their harmony was prolonged prayer. In this
way we are offered a formidable lesson for every Christian
”At times it is thought that missionary effectiveness depends
primarily on careful programming and its subsequent intelligent application through
a concrete commitment. The Lord certainly does ask us for
our collaboration, but before any other response his initiative is
necessary: His Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church.
The roots of our being and of our action are
in the wise and provident silence of God.
“The images used
by St. Luke to indicate the irruption of the Holy
Spirit -- wind and fire -- recall the Sinai, where
God revealed himself to the people of Israel and offered
his covenant (cf. Exodus 19:3 and following). The feast of
Sinai, which Israel celebrated 50 days after the Passover, was
the feast of the Covenant.
”On speaking of the tongues
of fire (cf. Acts 3), St. Luke wants to represent
Pentecost as a new Sinai, as the feast of the
new Covenant, in which the Covenant with Israel is extended
to all the nations of the earth. The Church has
been catholic and missionary from her birth. The universality of
salvation is manifested with the list of the numerous ethnic
groups to which those belonged who heard the apostles´ first
proclamation (cf. Acts 2:9-11).
”The People of God, which had
found its first configuration in Sinai, extends today to the
point of surmounting every barrier of race, culture, space and
time. As opposed to what occurred with the tower of
Babel, when people wanted to build a way to heaven
with their hands, they ended up by destroying their very
capacity to understand one another mutually. The Pentecost of the
Spirit, with the gift of tongues, shows that his presence
unites and transforms confusion into communion. Man´s pride and egoism
always creates divisions, builds walls of indifference, hatred and violence.
”The Holy Spirit, on the contrary, makes hearts capable of
understanding everyone´s languages, as it re-establishes the bridge of authentic
communication between earth and heaven. The Holy Spirit is love.
”But, how is it possible to enter into the mystery
of the Holy Spirit? How can the secret of love
be understood? The Gospel passage takes us today to the
Cenacle, where, the Last Supper being over, an experience of
disconcert saddened the apostles. The reason was that Jesus´ words
aroused disturbing questions: He spoke of the world´s hatred of
him and of his own, he spoke of his mysterious
departure; much remained to be said but at that moment
the apostles were not able to bear the weight (cf.
”To console them, he explained the meaning of
his departure: He would go, but he would return; meanwhile,
he would not abandon them, would not leave them orphans.
He would send the Consoler, the Spirit of the Father,
and the Spirit would enable them to know that Christ´s
work is a work of love: love of him who
gave himself, love of the Father who has given him.
”This is the mystery of Pentecost: The Holy Spirit illuminates
the human spirit and, on revealing Christ crucified and risen,
indicates the way to become more like him, that is,
to be "expression and instrument of love that comes from
him" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 33). The Church, gathered with
Mary, as at her birth, today implores: "Veni Sancte Spiritus!"
-- "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of thy love!" Amen.”
After the celebration of the Eucharist, the Pope gave the
following address to those present, ending with the singing of
the Regina Coeli.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters!
of Pentecost invites us to go back to the origins
of the Church, which, as the Second Vatican Council affirmed,
"by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest" ("Lumen
Gentium," No. 2). At Pentecost, the Church was manifested one,
holy, catholic and apostolic; it was manifested missionary, with the
gift of speaking all the languages of the world, as
the good news of the love of God is meant
for all peoples.
"The Church, which the Spirit guides in
the way of all truth and which he unified in
communion and in works of ministry, he both equips and
directs with hierarchical and charismatic gifts and adorns with his
fruits" (ibid. 4).
Among the realities aroused by the Spirit
in the Church are the ecclesial movements and communities, with
which yesterday I had the joy of meeting in this
square, in a great world gathering. The whole Church, as
Pope John Paul II liked to say, is only one
great movement, animated by the Holy Spirit, a river that
goes through history to water it with the grace of
God and to make her life fruitful in goodness, beauty,
justice and peace.”