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Pope Francis Solemnity of Pentecost Regina Caeli 31.05.20

Pope Francis Solemnity of Pentecost Regina Caeli 31.05.20

Pope Francis  31.05.20 Regina Caeli, St Peter's Square     Solemnity of Pentecost       John 20: 19-23

Pope Francis Regina Caeli Pentecost 31.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today since the square is open, we can return. It's a pleasure!

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, in memory of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first Christian Community. Today's Gospel (John 20: 19-23) takes us back to Easter evening and shows us the risen Jesus appearing in the Upper Room, where the disciples have taken refuge. They were afraid. "He stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you!" (see 19). These first words spoken by the Risen One: "Peace be with you" are to be considered more than a greeting: they express forgiveness, the forgiveness granted to the disciples who, to tell the truth, had abandoned him. They are words of reconciliation and forgiveness. And we too, when we wish peace to others, are giving forgiveness and also asking for forgiveness. Jesus offers his peace precisely to these disciples who are afraid, who find it difficult to believe what they have seen, that is, the empty tomb, and underestimate the testimony of Mary of Magdala and the other women. Jesus forgives, always forgives, and offers his peace to his friends. Don't forget: Jesus never tires of forgiving. We are the ones who get tired of asking for forgiveness.

By forgiving and gathering the disciples around them, Jesus makes them a Church, his Church, which is a reconciled and mission-ready community. Reconciled and ready for the mission. When a community is not reconciled, it is not ready for mission: it is ready to discuss within itself, it is ready for internal discussions. The encounter with the risen Lord turns the lives of the Apostles upside down and turns them into courageous witnesses. In fact, immediately afterwards he says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (v. 21). These words make it clear that the Apostles are sent to prolong the same mission that the Father has entrusted to Jesus. "I send you": it is not time to be locked up, nor to regret: to regret the "good times", those times passed with the Master. The joy of the resurrection is great, but it is an expansive joy, which should not be kept for itself, it is to give it. On the Sundays of the Easter Season we first heard this same episode, then the meeting with the disciples of Emmaus, then the good Shepherd, the farewell speeches and the promise of the Holy Spirit: all this is guided towards strengthening the faith of the disciples – and also ours – with a view to mission.

And in order to inspire mission, Jesus gives the Apostles his Spirit. The Gospel says, "He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." (: 22) The Holy Spirit is fire that burns away sins and creates new men and women; he is the fire of love with which the disciples can set the world on fire, that love of tenderness that prefers the little ones, the poor, the excluded. In the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the Holy Spirit with his gifts: wisdom, intellect, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, fear of God. This last gift – the fear of the Lord – is precisely the opposite of the fear that previously paralyzed the disciples: it is the love for the Lord, it is the certainty of his mercy and goodness, it is the confidence to be able to move in the direction indicated by him, without ever lacking his presence and support. 

The feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that within us dwells the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. He also gives us the courage to go out of the protective walls of our "Upper Rooms", our groups, without getting used to a quiet life or closing ourselves up in sterile habits. Let us now raise our thoughts to Mary. She was there, with the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit came, the protagonist of the first Community of the wonderful experience of Pentecost, and let us pray that she may obtain for the Church an ardent missionary spirit.