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Full text: Pope Francis’ homily on Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Vatican City, May 31, 2020 / 05:15 am (CNA).- Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ Pentecost Sunday homily, delivered May 31, 2020, at the Basilica of St. Peter, and checked against delivery.

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4), as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians. He continues: “There are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone” (vv. 5- 6). Diversity and unity: St. Paul puts together two words that seem contradictory. He wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings together the many; and that the Church was born this way: we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit. 

Let us go back to the origin of the Church, to the day of Pentecost. Let us look at the Apostles: some of them were fishermen, simple people accustomed to living by the work of their hands, but there were also others, like Matthew, who was an educated tax collector. They were from different backgrounds and social contexts, and they had Hebrew and Greek names. In terms of character, some were meek and others were excitable; they all had different ideas and sensibilities. They were all different. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. The union comes with the anointing. At Pentecost, the Apostles understand the unifying power of the Spirit. They see it with their own eyes when everyone, though speaking in different languages, comes together as one people: the people of God, shaped by the Spirit, who weaves unity from diversity and bestows harmony because there is harmony in the Spirit. He himself is harmony. 

Let us now focus on ourselves, the Church of today. We can ask ourselves: “What is it that unites us, what is the basis of our unity?” We too have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities. But the temptation is always fiercely to defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. And that’s a bad temptation that divides. But this is a faith created in our own image; it is not what the Spirit wants. We might think that what unite us are our beliefs and our morality. But there is much more: our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children, all the same, in this, and all different. The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord — Jesus — and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters! Let us begin anew from here; let us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does. The world sees us only as on the right or left, with this ideology, with that one; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus. The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy. The Spirit loves us and knows everyone’s place in the grand scheme of things: for him, we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic. 

If we go back to the day of Pentecost, we discover that the first task of the Church is proclamation. Yet we see that the Apostles do not prepare a strategy; when they were shut in there, in the Upper Room, they did not make a strategy, no, they do not prepare a pastoral plan. They could have divided people into groups according to their roots, speaking first to those close by and then to those far away… They could have also waited a while before beginning their preaching in order to understand more deeply the teachings of Jesus, so as to avoid risks… No. The Spirit does not want the memory of the Master to be cultivated in small groups locked in upper rooms where it is easy to “nest.” And this is a bad disease that can come to the Church: the Church not as a community, not as a family, not as a mother, but as a nest. He opens doors and pushes us to press beyond what has already been said and done, beyond the precincts of a timid and wary faith. In the world, unless there is tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message. The Apostles set off: unprepared, yet putting their lives on the line. One thing kept them going: the desire to give what they received. The beginning of the First Letter of John is beautiful: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you” (1 John 1:3). 

Here we come to understand what the secret of unity is, the secret of the Spirit. It is gift. For the Spirit himself is gift: he lives by giving himself and in this way he keeps us together, making us sharers in the same gift. It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving. Why is this important? Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God. The Spirit, the living memory of the Church, reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving: not by holding on but by giving of ourselves. 

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look within and ask ourselves what prevents us from giving ourselves. There are, let us say, three enemies of the gift — the main ones, three — always lurking at the door of our hearts: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. Narcissism makes us idolize ourselves, to be concerned only with what is good for us. The narcissist thinks: “Life is good if I profit from it.” So he or she ends up saying: “Why should I give myself to others?” In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is: the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others, and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes. But the second enemy, victimhood, is equally dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbour: “No one understands me, no one helps me, no one loves me, everyone has it in for me!” The victim’s heart is closed, as he or she asks, “Why aren’t others concerned about me?” In the crisis we are experiencing, how ugly victimhood is! Thinking that no one understands us and experiences what we experience. Finally, there is pessimism. Here the unending complaint is: “Nothing is going well, society, politics, the Church…” The pessimist gets angry with the world, but sits back and does nothing, thinking: “What good is giving? That is useless.” At this moment, in the great effort of beginning anew, how damaging is pessimism, the tendency to see everything in the worst light and to keep saying that nothing will return as before! When someone thinks this way, the one thing that certainly does not return is hope. In these three — the narcissistic idol of the mirror, the ‘mirror-god;’ ‘I feel like a person with grievances;’ and the ‘god-negativity,’ ‘everything is black, everything is dark’ — we find ourselves in the famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. Therefore we need the Holy Spirit, God’s gift that heals us from narcissism, victimhood and pessimism, heals us from the mirror, from grievances and darkness. 

Brothers and sister, let us pray to him: Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit: you are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family. Amen. 

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Pope Francis calls for “a more just, equitable and Christian society” after coronavirus crisis

May 30, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, May 30, 2020 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- Our suffering during the coronavirus crisis will have been in vain if we fail to build “a more just, more equitable, more Christian society,” Pope Francis said May 30.

In a video message released Saturday, on the eve of Pentecost, the pope urged Catholics to seize the opportunity for change presented by the pandemic.  

He said: “When we come out of this pandemic, we will no longer be able to do what we have been doing, and how we have been doing it. No, everything will be different.”

“All the suffering will have been useless if we do not build together a more just, more equitable, more Christian society, not in name, but in reality, a reality that leads us to a Christian behavior.”

“If we do not work to end the pandemic of poverty in the world, with the pandemic of poverty in the country of each one of us, in the city where each of us lives, this time will have been in vain.”

The pope made the comments in a message to members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS). The body was established in December 2018 by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life to bring together the different branches of the Charismatic Renewal worldwide. Its statutes came into force on the Solemnity of Pentecost 2019.

The pope told CHARIS members, who were taking part in an online Pentecost vigil, that “Today more than ever we need the Father to send us the Holy Spirit.”

The world is suffering, he said, and it needs the witness of Catholics to the Gospel of Jesus, which can only be given through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

“We need the Spirit to give us new eyes, open our minds and hearts to face this moment and the future with the lesson we have learned: we are one humanity. We are not saved alone,” the pope explained, speaking in his native Spanish.

He said that the pandemic had underlined that, despite their differences, Christians are one, united by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

“We have before us the duty to build a new reality,” he said. “The Lord will do it; we can collaborate.”

He continued: “From the great trials of humanity, and among them the pandemic, one comes out either better or worse. It is not the same.”

“I ask you: How do you want to come out? Better or worse? And that’s why today we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit so that He may change our hearts and help us to come out better.”

“If we do not live to be judged according to what Jesus tells us: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was in prison and you visited me, a stranger and you welcomed me’ (cf. Matthew 25:35-36), we will not come out better.”

The Pope urged members of CHARIS to be guided by a text called Charismatic Renewal and the Service of Man by the Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens and the Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara. 

He also encouraged them to reflect on “the prophetic words” of St. John XXIII announcing the Second Vatican Council, in which he spoke of a “new Pentecost.” 

Pope Francis concluded: “To all of you, I wish on this vigil the consolation of the Holy Spirit. And the strength of the Holy Spirit to come out of this moment of pain, sadness and trial that is the pandemic; to come out better. May the Lord bless you and may the Virgin Mother take care of you.”

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Vatican tees up summer fun with sports camp

May 30, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, May 30, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- After weeks stuck indoors, the children of Vatican employees will be able to stretch their legs, and grow in their faith, at a sports camp hosted inside the Vatican this summer.

“Estate Ragazzi in Va… […]