Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
Holy Spirit 2019 onwards
We can be reborn from our sinful existence only with the help of the same power that raised the Lord: the power of God. That’s why, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit, because alone, we cannot do it.
The message of the Lord's resurrection is this gift of the Holy Spirit and indeed the first appearance of Jesus to the apostles, on the Sunday of the Resurrection, the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Spirit”. "This is our strength! We cannot do anything without the Spirit”.
Christian life is not only about behaving well and do this don't do that. We can do this. We can write our lives in flourishing penmanship but the Christian is born again only by the Spirit, therefore we must make room for it:
It is the Spirit that allows us to rise from our limitations, from our deaths, because there are so many neuroses in our life and in our soul. The message of the resurrection is that of Jesus to Nicodemus: we must be born again. But how? A life, that may call itself Christian, but that leaves no room for the Spirit and does not allow itself to be carried forward by the Spirit, is a pagan life, disguised as Christian.
The Spirit is the protagonist of Christian life. The Holy Spirit, who accompanies us, transforms us, and overcomes sin with us.
No one has ever ascended to heaven except He who descended from heaven, that is Jesus. He came down from heaven, and at the moment of the resurrection, he said to us ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’, the companion of Christian life.
There cannot be a Christian life without the Holy Spirit, who is our daily companion, a gift from the Father, a gift from Jesus.
Let us ask the Lord, to give us this awareness that we cannot be Christians without walking with the Holy Spirit, without acting with the Holy Spirit, without letting the Holy Spirit be the protagonist of our lives.
We must, therefore, ask ourselves, what place does the Spirit have in our lives, and we must ask the Lord for the grace to understand this message: "Our companion on our way is the Holy Spirit”.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
The Gospel of this Sixth Sunday of Easter presents us with a passage from the speech that Jesus gave to the Apostles at the last supper (cf. Jn -29 14.23). He speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit and makes a promise: "the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you" (v. 26). As the moment of the cross approaches, Jesus reassures the Apostles that they will not be left alone: the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, will always be there with them to support them in their mission of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the whole world. In the original Greek, the word "Paraclete" means the one who stands beside another, in order to support and console. Jesus returns to the Father, but He continues to instruct and animate His disciples through the action of the Holy Spirit.
What is the Mission of the Holy Spirit who Jesus promises as a gift? He himself says: "He will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you". In the course of His earthly life, Jesus has already transmitted all that He wanted to entrust to the Apostles: He brought divine revelation to completion, that is everything that the Father meant to say to humanity through the incarnation of the Son. The Holy Spirit's task is to make people remember, in other words to make them fully understand and encourage them to concretely implement the teachings of Jesus. And this is also the Mission of the Church, which carries it out through a precise way of life, characterized by certain requirements: faith in the Lord and the observance of His word; docility to the action of the spirit, who continually makes the risen Lord alive and present; the acceptance of His peace and the witness born of Him through an attitude of openness and encounter with others.
To accomplish this the Church cannot remain stationary, but, through the active participation of each baptized person, she is called upon to act as a community on a journey, animated and sustained by the light and power of the Holy Spirit who makes all things new. It is a question of freeing ourselves from the worldly bonds represented by our views, our strategies, our objectives, which often weigh down the journey of faith, and to ask us to listen to the word of the Lord. Thus it is the spirit of God who guides us and guides the Church so that her authentic face beautiful and luminous willed by Christ may shine forth.
Today the Lord invites us to open our hearts to the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that He may guide us along the paths of history. He teaches us, day by day, the logic of the Gospel, the logic of welcoming love, "teaching us everything" and "reminding us of all that the Lord has told us." May Mary, who in this month of May we venerate and to whom we pray with special devotion as our Heavenly Mother, always protect the Church and all humanity. May she who, with humble and courageous faith, cooperated fully with the Holy Spirit in the incarnation of the Son of God, also help us to let ourselves be instructed and guided by the Paraclete, so that we can accept the word of God and bear witness to it with our lives.
Sadness is not a Christian attitude. Even if life isn't a Carnival, and there are so many difficulties, you can overcome them and go forward but, it takes daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, the one who accompanies us.
The central figure of todays Gospel passage is the Holy Spirit. In the farewell speech to His disciples before ascending into heaven, Jesus gives us a true catechesis on the Holy Spirit, He explains who he is. The disciples are sad to hear that their master will soon will leave them and Jesus rebukes them for this, pointing out that although "grief has filled your hearts, (…) it is better for you that I go.
But how can one not be sad? To counter sadness, we pray to the Lord to keep the renewed youth of the spirit within us. It is the Holy Spirit, who ensures that we continue to be renewed and youthful in our faith.
A great Saint said: a Saint is a sad sad Saint. So, a Christian is a sad sad Christian: not right. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes us able to carry our crosses. Today's first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, tells the storey of Paul and Silas who had been stripped, beaten, chained and imprisoned, sang hymns to God.
The Holy Spirit renews everything. The Holy Spirit accompanies us in life and sustains us, is the Paraclete. But what a strange name! I remember when as a priest at a mass for children on a Pentecost Sunday I asked them if they knew who is the Holy Spirit. And a child answered: the paralytic. And we too often think that the Holy Spirit is a paralytic, who does nothing ....
Paraclete: the word paraclete means "He who is near me and supports me so that I don’t fall, so I keep my spirit youthful. A Christian is always young: always. and when the heart of a Christian begins to age, so does his Christian vocation.
Either you are young in heart and soul, or you are not fully Christian.
In life there will be pain, Paul and Silas had been beaten and were suffering, but they were full of joy, sang ...
He explained that this is where the "youthful" part comes in as youth looks ahead with hope. But to be able to have this youthful attitude, we need a daily dialogue with the Holy Spirit, who is always with. It is the great gift that Jesus left us this support, that keeps you going.
And even though we are sinners, the Spirit helps us to repent and makes us look ahead. Talk to the spirit, he will give you support and give you back your youth. Sin on the other hand ages: ages the soul, everything gets older. Never this pagan sadness.
In life there are difficult times but at such times we feel that the Spirit helps us move forward (...) and overcome the difficulties. Even martyrdom.
"Let us ask the Lord to not lose this renewed youthfulness, not to be Christians who have lost their joy and not allowed themselves to carry on ... A Christian should never retires; a Christian lives, lives because he is young – when he is a true Christian ".
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we begin a journey of catechesis through the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This biblical book, written by St. Luke the Evangelist, talks about the journey – a journey: but what journey? The journey of the Gospel in the world and shows us the wonderful combination of the word of God and the Holy Spirit that opens the time of evangelization. The protagonists of the Acts are precisely a lively and effective couple: the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
God sends upon the Earth his message and his Word runs quickly, says Psalm (147.4). The word of God runs, it is dynamic, irrigating every ground on which it falls. And what is its force? St. Luke tells us that the human Word becomes effective not thanks to rhetoric, which is the art of speaking well, but thanks to the Holy Spirit, which is the dynamic of God, his strength, which has the power to purify the word , to make it the bearer of life. For example, in the Bible there are stories, human words; But what is the difference between the Bible and a history book? That the words of the Bible are filled by the Holy Spirit which gives it a huge strength, a different force and helps us as a seed of holiness and life and is effective. When the spirit visits the human word it becomes dynamic, like dynamite, capable of lighting up hearts and making strategies, resistances and walls of division break down, opening new routes and expanding the boundaries of God's people. And this is what happens through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, this new series of catechesis.
This gives vibrant sound and incisiveness to our human words which are so fragile, capable even of lying and dodging ones own responsibilities, it is only the Holy Spirit, through which the Son of God was created; the spirit who anointed and supported the mission; the spirit thanks to which he chose his Apostles and that ensured the announcement, perseverance and fertility.
The Gospel ends with the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles begins precisely here, from the overabundance of the life of the risen one transfused in the Church. St. Luke tells us that Jesus "presented himself alive after His passion to them by many proofs, for forty days, appearing ... and speaking of the things about the Kingdom of God "(At 1.3). The risen Christ, the risen Jesus accomplishes very human acts such as sharing a meal with his friends, and invites them to live confident in the expectation of the fulfilment of the promise of the Father: "You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (At 1.5).
The baptism in the Holy Spirit, in fact, is the experience that allows us to enter into a personal communion with God and to participate in His universal salvific will, by acquiring the gift of speaking candidly, courage, the ability to pronounce a word as a son of God, not just men, not just humanity but children of God: clear, open, effective words, full of love for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.
There is therefore nothing to fight for to achieve or merit this gift of God. Everything is given free of charge and in its time. The Lord gives everything for free. Salvation is not bought, you do not pay for it: it is a free gift. Before the anxiety of knowing in advance the time when the events will happen that he has announced, Jesus responds to those around him: "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth "(At 1.7 -8).
The risen one invites his friends to not live with anxiety of the present but to make an alliance with time to know how to wait for the unravelling of a sacred story that hasn't stopped but that advances, it always goes forward; and to be able to await the steps of God, the Lord of time and space. The risen Christ invites those around him to not fabricate from their own creation the mission, but to wait for the Father to dynamise their hearts with his spirit, in order to involve them in a missionary testimony capable of radiating from Jerusalem to Samaria and to beyond the boundaries of Israel to the peripheries of the world.
This expectation, the Apostles live it together, living as family of the Lord, in the upper room or cenacol, whose walls are still witnesses of the gift that Jesus gave himself to those around him in the Eucharist. And how do we await the strength, dýnamism of God? Praying with perseverance, as if we were not many but one. Praying in unity and with perseverance. It is through prayer that you defeat solitude, temptation, suspicion and opens ones hearts to communion. The presence of the women and of Mary the mother of Jesus, intensifies this experience: they learned first from the teacher to bear witness to the faithfulness of love and to the force of communion that overcomes every fear.
Let us ask the Lord for the patience to wait for his steps, to not want to fabricate ourselves his work and to remain docile, praying, invoking the spirit and cultivating the art of ecclesial communion.
Once again tonight, the eve of the last day of Easter, the feast of Pentecost, Jesus is among us and proclaiming out loud, "if anyone thirsts, come to me and drink. As Scripture says: "rivers of living water will flow from him who believes in me "(Jn 7: -38 ).
He is the river of living water of the Holy Spirit that flows from Jesus's heart; from His side pierced by the spear (cf. Jn 19.36), which cleanses and makes the Church fruitful, the mystical spouse represented by Mary, the new Eve, at the foot of the cross.
The Holy Spirit pours forth from the heart of mercy of the risen Jesus, and fills our hearts with a good measure, pressed down, filled and to overflowing with mercy "(cf. Lk 6.38) and transforms us into the Church - with a womb filled with mercy, that is into a mother with an open heart for everyone! I wish the people who live in Rome would recognize the Church, recognize us because of this being more merciful – not because they have more things – for this being more filled with humanity and tenderness, of which there is much need! That they would feel at home, in the maternal home where there is always welcome and where they can always return. That they would feel always welcome, listened to, understood, helped to take a step forward in the direction of the Kingdom of God ... As a mother knows how, even when the children have grown up.
This thought about the maternity of the church reminds me that 75 years ago, on 11 June 1944, Pope Pius XII carried out a special act of thanksgiving and supplication of the Virgin, for the protection of the city of Rome. He did this in the church of St Ignatius, where the venerated image of the divine Madonna had been brought. Divine love is the Holy Spirit that springs from the heart of Christ. It is He that is the spiritual rock that accompanied the people of God in the desert, so that they might draw water from it to quench their thirst along their journey (cf. 1 Cor 10.4). In the burning bush that is not consumed, an image of Mary, Virgin and mother, is the risen Christ who speaks to us, gives us the fire of the Holy Spirit, inviting us to descend in the midst of the people to hear their cry, inviting us to open the paths of freedom that lead to the land promised by God.
We know: there is even today, as in every age, people who seek to build a city and a tower that reaches to heaven "(cf. Gen 11.4). These are human projects, even our projects, done at the service of an ' I ' always greater, toward a heaven where there is no longer room for God. God lets us do that for a while, so that we might experience to what point of evil and sadness we are capable of arriving without him. But the spirit of Christ, the Lord of history, can't wait to knock it all down, to make us start over! We are always a bit narrow both in sight and heart; left to ourselves we end up losing the horizon; We arrive and convince ourselves as having understood everything, we have taken into account all the variables, of having foreseen what will happen and how it will happen... these are all of our own constructions that give us the illusion of touching heaven. Instead the spirit explodes into the world from on high, from the womb of God, where the son was created, and makes all things new.
What are we celebrating today, all together, in our city of Rome? We are celebrating the primacy of the spirit that makes us fall silent before the unpredictability of God's plan, and then fills us with joy: so it was this that God bore in his womb for us!: this journey as Church, this passage, this Exodus, this arrival in the promised land, at the city of Jerusalem of the doors that are always open for everyone, where the various languages spoken by man are composed in the harmony of the spirit, because the spirit is harmony.
And if we have in mind the pains of giving birth, we understand that our cry, that of the people who live in this city and the cry of creation as a whole is none other than the cry of the Spirit: it is the birth of a new world. God is the father and the mother, God is the midwife, God is the cry, God is the Son generated in the world and we, the Church, we are at the service of this birth. We are not at the service of ourselves, we are not at the service of our ambitions and all these dreams of power, no: we are at the service of God, at the marvels of God.
If the pride and presumed moral superiority do not dull our hearing, we realize that behind the cry of so many people there is none other than the authentic cry of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who pushes us once again not to be content, to seek to put ourselves back on the road; It is the Spirit who will save us from every diocesan re-organisation (address to the Diocesan Convention, 9 may 2019). This is a danger, this desire to confuse the newness of the Spirit with a method of re-organising everything down. No, that is not the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God upsets everything and makes us start not all over again, but as a new beginning.
Let us then allow the Spirit to take us by the hand and bring us to the heart of the city to hear its cry, the groan. God says to Moses that this hidden cry of the people has reached even up to him: He has heard, He has seen their oppression and sufferings ... And He has decided to take action by sending Moses to arose and nourish the dream of freedom in the Israelites and to reveal to them that this dream is His will: to make of Israel a free people, His people, bound to him by a Covenant of love, called to witness the faithfulness of the Lord before all the people.
But for Moses to be able to fulfil his mission, God instead wants him to descend with him in the midst of the Israelites. Moses heart must become God's, attentive and sensitive to the suffering and dreams of men and women, to those who cry in secret when they raise their hands towards heaven, because they have nothing else to hold onto on Earth. It is the groaning of the Spirit, and Moses must listen not with his ears but with his heart. Today we can ask ourselves, Christians, to learn how to listen with our heart. The one who teaches how to listen this way is the Spirit. He is the one who teaches us to listen with the heart. To open it.
And to listen to the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us go down, descend from our locations, among the brothers and sisters who live in our city, to hear their need for Salvation, the cry that goes up to Him, that we usually do not hear. It is not about explaining ideas, ideologies. I love it when I see a church who wants to update itself and then finds only functional ways to improve. These ways don't come from the Spirit of God. This church does not know how to descend, and if it does not know how to descend it is not the Holy Spirit that is commanding. It is about opening eyes and ears, but above all the heart, listening with your heart. Then we will truly be on the way. Then we will feel the fire of Pentecost within ourselves which pushes us to cry out to the men and women of this city that their slavery is over and that it is Christ who is the way that leads to the city of heaven. And this needs faith, brothers and sisters. Let us ask today the gift of faith in order to take that path.
Pentecost arrived, for the disciples, after fifty days of uncertainty. True, Jesus had risen. Overjoyed, they had seen him, listened to his words and even shared a meal with him. Yet they had not overcome their doubts and fears: they met behind closed doors (cf. Jn 20:19.26), uncertain about the future and not ready to proclaim the risen Lord. Then the Holy Spirit comes and their worries disappear. Now the apostles show themselves fearless, even before those sent to arrest them. Previously, they had been worried about saving their lives; now they are unafraid of dying. Earlier, they had huddled in the Upper Room; now they go forth to preach to every nation. Before the ascension of Jesus, they waited for God’s kingdom to come to them (cf. Acts 1:6); now they are filled with zeal to travel to unknown lands. Before, they had almost never spoken in public, and when they did, they had often blundered, as when Peter denied Jesus; now they speak with parrhesia to everyone. The disciples’ journey seemed to have reached the end of the line, when suddenly they were rejuvenated by the Spirit. Overwhelmed with uncertainty, when they thought everything was over, they were transformed by a joy that gave them a new birth. The Holy Spirit did this. The Spirit is far from being an abstract reality: he is the Person who is most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives. How does he do this? Let us consider the Apostles. The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them, he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. Rather, the Spirit brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that had been lacking, his own harmony, for he is harmony.
Harmony within human beings. Deep down, in their hearts, the disciples needed to be changed. Their story teaches us that even seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts. It is no use knowing that the Risen One is alive, unless we too live as risen ones. It is the Spirit who makes Jesus live within us; he raises us up from within. That is why when Jesus appears to his disciples, he repeats the words, “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19.21), and bestows the Spirit. That is what peace really is, the peace bestowed on the Apostles. That peace does not have to do with resolving outward problems – God does not spare his disciples from tribulation and persecution. Rather, it has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. The peace bestowed on the apostles, the peace that does not bring freedom from problems but in problems, is offered to each of us. Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings. Yet how often we choose to remain on the surface! Rather than seeking the Spirit, we try to keep afloat, thinking that everything will improve once this or that problem is over, once I no longer see that person, once things get better. But to do so is to stay on the surface: when one problem goes away, another arrives, and once more we grow anxious and ill at ease. Avoiding those who do not think as we do will not bring serenity. Resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit.
At today’s frenzied pace of life, harmony seems swept aside. Pulled in a thousand directions, we run the risk of nervous exhaustion and so we react badly to everything. Then we look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive. But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: he brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope. As Saint Paul tells us today, the Spirit keeps us from falling back into fear, for he makes us realize that we are beloved children (cf. Rom 8:15). He is the Consoler, who brings us the tender love of God. Without the Spirit, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together. Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life.
The Holy Spirit does not bring only harmony within us but also among us. He makes us Church, building different parts into one harmonious edifice. Saint Paul explains this well when, speaking of the Church, he often repeats a single word, “variety”: varieties of gifts, varieties of services, varieties of activities” (1 Cor 12:4-6). We differ in the variety of our qualities and gifts. The Holy Spirit distributes them creatively, so that they are not all identical. On the basis of this variety, he builds unity. From the beginning of creation, he has done this. Because he is a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos, in creating harmony. He is a specialist in creating diversity, enrichment, individuality. He is the creator of this diversity and, at the same time, the one who brings harmony and gives unity to diversity. He alone can do these two things.
In today’s world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born. In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family. May he regenerate us! There is always a temptation to build “nests”, to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect, even within the Church. How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something! The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness. He looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These nouns come before any adjectives. Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things. But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share. Later we come to realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life. Those who live by the Spirit, however, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement.
To be spiritual, to savour the harmony of the Spirit, we need to adopt his way of seeing things. Then everything changes: with the Spirit, the Church is the holy People of God, mission is not proselytism but the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father. Without the Spirit, though, the Church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion. Many Churches spend time making pastoral plans, discussing any number of things. That seems to be the road to unity, but it is not the way of the Spirit; it is the road to division. The Spirit is the first and last need of the Church (cf. Saint Paul VI, General Audience, 29 November 1972). He “comes where he is loved, where he is invited, where he is expected” (Saint Bonaventure, Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter).
Brothers and sisters, let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centredness into self-gift, come to us. Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts. Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Holy Spirit, make us builders of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Fifty days after Easter, in that upper room that is now their home and where the presence of Mary, mother of God, is the element 0f cohesion, the Apostles live an event that exceeds their expectations. Gathered in prayer – prayer is the "Lung" continually gives breath to His disciples; without prayer you cannot be a disciple of Jesus; without prayer we cannot be Christians! It is the air, it is the lung of Christian life –, they are surprised by Gods powerful entry. This is an entry-that penetrates closed doors; opens the door through the force of a wind that is the Spirit, the primordial breath, and fulfils the promise of the "strength" made by the Risen before His departure (cf. At 1.8). Suddenly, from above, "a roar, like a rushing wind that comes crashing down, and it filled the whole house where they were" (At 2.2).
To the wind is then added the fire that recalls the burning Bush and the Sinai with the gift of the ten commandments (cf. Es 19.16 -19). In the biblical tradition fire accompanies the manifestation of God. In the fire God delivers his living and energetic word(cf. Heb 4.12) that opens up to the future; the fire symbolically expresses his work of warming, illuminating and testing hearts, his care in testing the resistance of human works, in purifying and revitalising them. While at Sinai God's voice is heard, in Jerusalem, on the feast of Pentecost, Peter speaks, the rock on which Christ chose to build his Church. His word, weak and incapable of denying the Lord, crossed by the fire of the spirit acquires strength, becomes capable to of piercing hearts and move to conversion. For God choses what is weak in the world to confuse the strong (cf. 1Cor 1.27).
The Church is therefore born from the fire of love and as a fire that burns at Pentecost and which manifests the power of the word of the risen one imbued with the Holy Spirit. The new and definitive Covenant is founded no longer on a law written on tablets of stone, but on the action of God's spirit which makes all things new and is etched into the hearts of the flesh.
The word of the Apostles is imbued with the spirit of the risen one and becomes a new different word, which can be understand, as if it were translated simultaneously into all languages: in fact each one heard them speaking in his own language (At 2.6). It is about the language of truth and love, which is the universal language: even the illiterate can understand it. It is a language of truth and love that everyone can understand. The truth is in your heart, it is in sincerity, and in love, everyone understands it. Even if you can't speak, but with a caress, which is truthful and loving.
The Holy Spirit not only manifests itself through a Symphony of sounds that harmoniously unites and composes diversity but he also presents himself as the conductor who plays the scores of the praises for the "mighty works" of God. The Holy Spirit is the author of communion, is the artist of reconciliation who knows how to remove the barriers between Jews and Greeks, among slaves and free, to make it one body. He builds up the community of believers by harmonising the unity of the body and the multiplicity of its members. He makes the Church grow by helping it to go beyond human limits, sins and any scandal.
The wonder is so great, and some people wonder if those men are drunk. Then Peter intervenes on behalf of all the Apostles and reads that event in the light of Joel 3, where he announces a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The followers of Jesus are not drunk, but live with what Saint Ambrose calls "the sober intoxication of the spirit, which re-kindles the prophesy among the people of God through dreams and visions. This prophetic gift is not reserved only to some, but to all who those who invoke the name of the Lord.
From that moment, the spirit of God moves our hearts to welcome salvation which comes through a person, Jesus Christ, the one who men have nailed to the wood of the cross and whom God raised from the dead "freeing Him from pains of death (At 2.24). It is he who poured out that spirit who orchestrated the polyphony of praise that everyone can hear. As Benedict XVI said, "Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself comes to us and draws us into himself" (Homily, 3 June 2006). The spirit works the divine attraction: God seduces us with his love and so involves us, to move history and start processes by which it filters the new life. Only the Spirit of God has the power to humanize and fraternize every context, starting from those who receive it.
Let us ask the Lord to let us experience a new Pentecost that opens our hearts and tunes our feelings with those of Christ, so that we are able to announce without shame His transforming word.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In today's Gospel (cf. Lk 12: 49-53 ) Jesus warns his disciples that now is the time to decide. His coming into the world, in fact, coincides with the time of making decisive choices: the option in favour of the Gospel cannot be postponed. And in order to better explain His message, He uses the image of fire that He himself came to bring upon Earth. He says: "I have come to bring fire upon the Earth, and how I wish it were already blazing!» (see para. 49). These words are meant to help the disciples abandon every attitude of laziness, apathy, indifference and closure so as to welcome the fire of God's love; that love which, as Saint Paul reminds us was poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 5). Because it is the Holy Spirit that helps us love God and love our neighbour; It is the Holy Spirit that we all have inside.
Jesus reveals to his friends, and to us, his most ardent desire: to bring the fire ground of His Father's love to Earth, which kindles life and by which we are saved. Jesus calls us to spread this fire in the world, thanks to which we will be recognized as his true disciples. The fire of love, kindled by Christ into the world through the Holy Spirit, is a limitless fire, is a universal fire. This has been seen since the early days of Christianity: the witness of the Gospel has spread like beneficial wildfire overcoming every division between individuals, groups, peoples and nations. The evangelical message burns all forms of particularism and keeps charity open to all, with a preference for the poorest and most excluded.
The adherence to the fire of love that Jesus brought to Earth embraces our entire existence and adoring God and a willingness to serve our neighbour. Worshiping God and being available to serve our neighbour. The first, adoring God means learning the prayer of adoration, which we often forget. That is why I invite everyone to discover the beauty of the prayer of adoration and to practice it often. And then the second, a willingness to serve our neighbour: I think with admiration of so many communities and groups of young people who, even during the summer, are dedicated to this service for the sick, the poor, and people with disabilities. To live according to the spirit of the Gospel, it is necessary that in the face of ever changing needs that are emerging in the world, that there be disciples of Christ who can respond with new charitable initiatives. And so, by adoring God and serving our neighbours – both together, loving God and serving our neighbour – the Gospel might truly manifest itself as the fire that saves, that changes the world starting from a change in each one of our hearts.
In this perspective, we can also understand the other statement of Jesus in today's passage, that at first glance might disconcert us: "Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I say to you, division "(Lk 12.51). He came to "separate with fire". Separate what? Good from evil, right from wrong. In this sense He came to "divide", put into crisis – but in a healthy way – the lives of His disciples, breaking the easy illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life with compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against others. In other words, true religion with superstitious practices: how many people who say they are Christians go to sooth sayers or palm readers in order to have their future read! This is superstition, this is not of God. We are talking about not living as hypocrites, but of being willing to pay the price of consistent choices – this is the attitude that all of us should seek in life: consistent – pay the price to be consistent with the Gospel. Consistent with the Gospel. Because it is good to say that we are Christians, but above all we need to be Christians in concrete situations, witnessing to the Gospel which is essentially love for God and for our brothers and sisters.
May Mary Most Holy helps us to allow ourselves to allow our hearts to be purified by the fire brought by Jesus, and to spread it through our lives, decisive and courageous choices.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Let us continue the catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles. Before the prohibition of the Jews to teach in the name of Christ, Peter and the Apostles respond with courage that they cannot obey those who want to stop the gospel's journey around the world.
The Twelve thus show that they possess that "obedience of faith" that they would like then to arouse in all men (cf. Rm 1.5). Starting with Pentecost, in fact, they are no longer men who are alone. They experience that special synergy that makes them go out of themselves and makes them say "we and the Holy Spirit"(Acts 5.32) or "the Holy Spirit with us"(Acts 15:28). They feel that they can't just say "I," they're men who are decentralized from themselves. Strengthened by this alliance, the Apostles are not intimidated by anyone. They were so courageous! We think they were cowards: they all ran away, they fled when Jesus was arrested. But, from cowards they have become so brave. Why? Because the Holy Spirit was with them. The same happens to us: if we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will have the courage to move forward, the courage to overcome so many battles, not by ourselves but from the Spirit that is within us. They do not go backwards in their march of intrepid witnesses to Jesus Risen, as the martyrs of all times, including our own. The martyrs give their lives, they do not hide that they are Christians. We think, a few years ago - even today there are many - but think four years ago, those Coptic Orthodox Christians, who were on the beach of Libya: all were slaughtered. But the last word they said was "Jesus, Jesus." They did not loose the faith, because the Holy Spirit was with them. These are the martyrs of today! The Apostles are the megaphones of the Holy Spirit, sent out by the Risen One to spread the Word that gives salvation promptly and without hesitation.
And indeed, this determination shakes the Jewish religious system of that time, which feels threatened and responds with violence and death sentences. The persecution of Christians is always the same: people who do not want Christianity feel threatened and so they bring death to Christians. But, in the midst of the Sanhedrin, a voice arises that is different from the Pharisees that chooses to contain the reaction of those around him: he was called Gamaliel, a prudent man, a doctor of the law, esteemed by all the people. In his school, St. Paul learned to observe "the Laws of the Father" (cf. Acts 22,3). Gamaliel takes the floor and shows his brothers how to exercise the art of discernment in the face of situations that go beyond the usual frameworks.
He shows, citing some people who had passed themselves off as the Messiah, that every human project can first be approved and then end up shipwrecked, but everything that comes from above and bears the "signature" of God is destined to last. Human projects always fail; given time, like us. Think of so many political projects, and how they change from one side to the other, in all countries. Think of the great empires, think of the dictatorships of the last century: they felt very powerful, they thought they would dominate the world. And then they all collapsed. Think even today of the empires of today: they will collapse, if God is not with them, because the strength that men have within themselves does not last. Only God's strength lasts. Let us think of the history of Christians, also of the history of the Church, with so many sins, with so many scandals, with so many bad things in these two millennia. And why didn't it collapse? Because God is there. We are sinners, and so many times we cause scandal. But God is with us. And God saves us first, and then them; but the Lord always saves. The force is "God with us." Gamaliel proves, citing some characters who had pretended to be Messiah, that every human project can first win acclaim and then founder. Therefore Gamaliel concludes that if the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth believed in an impostor, they would be destined to disappear into thin air; but if they were following one who comes from God, it is better to stop fighting them; and warns: "You may even find yourselves fighting against God!" (Acts 5:39). It teaches us to make this discernment.
They are calm and forward-looking words, which allow us to see the Christian event in a new light and offers criteria that "know of the Gospel", because they invite us to recognize the tree by its fruits (cf. Mt 7.16). They touch hearts and achieve the desired effect: the other members of the Sanhedrin follow his opinion and renounce the intentions of death, that was, to kill the Apostles.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to work within us so that, both personally and in the community, we can acquire this habit of discernment. Let us ask him to know how to always see the unity of the history of salvation through the signs of God's passage in our time and on the faces of those around us, so that we may learn that time and human faces are messengers of the living God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
We see this clearly when the Apostle Paul, who has arrived in Troas, receives a vision. A Macedonian begs him: "Come to Macedonia and help us!" (Acts 16:9). The people of Northern Macedonia are proud of this, they are so proud to have called Paul for Paul to announce Jesus Christ. I remember so well the beautiful people who welcomed me with such warmth: that conserves the faith that Paul preached to them! The Apostle did not hesitate and left for Macedonia, sure that it is God who sends him, and arrives at Philippi, "Roman colony" (Acts 16:12) on the Via Ignatia, to preach the Gospel. Paul stops there for several days. There are three events that characterize his stay in Philippi, in these three days: three important events. 1) The evangelization and baptism of Lydia and her family; 2) his arrest, along with Silas, after exorcizing a slave exploited by her owners; 3) the conversion and baptism of his prison warden and his family. Let's look at these three episodes in Paul's life.
The power of the Gospel is addressed, above all, to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lidia, a merchant of purple cloth, in the city of Thyatira, she is a believer in God in whom the Lord opens his heart "to adhere to Paul's words"(Acts 16:14). Lydia, in fact, welcomes Christ, receives Baptism with her family and welcomes those who are of Christ, giving a home to Paul and Silas in her home. Here we have the testimony of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that has lasted until today. It entered through Macedonia.
After the warmth experienced at Lydia's house, Paul and Silas then find themselves dealing with the harshness of prison: they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of the prison, where they are thrown for having freed in the name of Jesus "a slave who had a spirit of divination" and "provided much profit for her masters" as a fortune-teller (Acts 16:16). Her masters made a lot of money, and this poor slave did what fortune-tellers do: she saw the future, she read hands – as the song says, "take this hand, gypsy", and that's why people paid. Even today, dear brothers and sisters, there are people who pay for it. I remember in my diocese, a large park, there were more than 60 tables where the fortune-tellers would sit men and women and they would read the palms of hands and people believed these things! And they paid. And this also happened in the time of St Paul. Her owners, in retaliation, reported Paul and lead the Apostles before the magistrates on charges of public disorder.
What happens? Paul is in prison and during his captivity a surprising thing happens. There is desolation, but instead of complaining, Paul and Silas sing praise to God and this praise releases a power that frees them: during the prayer an earthquake shakes the foundations of the prison, opens the doors and the chains fall off of everyone (cf. 16:25-26). As the prayer of Pentecost, the prayer made in prison also has prodigious effects.
The prison warden, believing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to commit suicide, because the prison wardens paid with their own lives if a prisoner escaped; but Paul shouts to him: "We are all here!" (Acts 16:27-28). Then he asks, "What do I have to do to be saved?" (see 30). The answer is: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved" (v. 31). At this point a change happens: in the middle of the night, the prison warden listens to the word of the Lord together with his family, welcomes the apostles, he washes their wounds – because they had been beaten – and together with his family they receive Baptism. Then, "and with his family he rejoiced at having come to faith in God" (v. 34), he prepared a banquet and invited Paul and Silas to stay with them: the moment of consolation! In the middle of the night of this anonymous prison warden, the light of Christ shines and defeats the darkness: the chains of the heart fall and blossom in him and his family and they experience a joy they have never experienced. That is the Holy Spirit who is carrying out the mission: from the beginning, from Pentecost onwards the Holy Spirit instils the mission. And he carries us forward, we must be faithful to the vocation that the Holy Spirit moves us to do. To bring the gospel.
Let us today also ask the Holy Spirit for an open heart, sensitive to God and hospitable to our brothers and sisters, like that of Lydia, and a bold faith, like that of Paul and Silas, and also an openness of heart, like that of the prison warden who is touched by the Holy Spirit.
The Christian life is to remain in God, following the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the world, which leads to corruption, and does not distinguish good from evil. In the first reading in the liturgy St. John the Apostle takes up the advice of Jesus to his disciples: "Remain in God".
One can be in the most sinful cities, in the most atheistic societies, but if one's heart remains in God, this man and this woman bring salvation. Remember the episode narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, who arrive in a city and meet Christians baptized by John. They ask them: "Have you received the Holy Spirit?", but they didn't even know he was there. How many Christians even today identify the Holy Spirit only with a dove and do not know that what makes you remain in the Lord is the guarantee, the strength to remain in the Lord.
The spirit of the world is contrary to the Holy Spirit. Jesus, at the Last Supper, does not ask the Father to remove the disciples from the world, because Christian life is in the world; but to protect them from the spirit of the world, which is the opposite. It is even worse than committing a sin. It is an atmosphere that renders you unconscious, leads you to a point that you do not know how to recognize good from evil.
Instead, to remain in God, we must ask for this gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee. From this we know that we remain in the Lord. But how can we know if we have the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the world? Saint Paul gives us this advice: "Do not sadden the Holy Spirit. When we go towards the spirit of the world we upset the Holy Spirit and ignore him, we cast him aside and our life goes another way.
The spirit of the world is forgetting, because sin does not turn you away from God if you realize it and ask forgiveness, but the spirit of the world makes you forget what sin is everything is permissible. In recent days a priest showed him a film of Christians celebrating the New Year in a tourist city, in a Christian country. They celebrated the New Year with a terrible worldliness, wasting money and many things. The spirit of the world. Is this a sin? - No dear: this is corruption, worse than sin. The Holy Spirit leads you to God, and if you sin, the Holy Spirit protects you and helps you to rise up, but the spirit of the world leads you to corruption, to the point that you do not know what is good and what is evil: everything is the same.
There is an Argentinean song that says: "Go, go, go... everything is the same that down there in the oven we will meet". The spirit of the world leads you to the unconsciousness of not distinguishing sin. And how do I know if I am on the road to worldliness, to the spirit of the world, or if am I following the Spirit of God?
The Apostle John gives us this advice: "Dear friends, do not give faith to every spirit (i.e. to every feeling, every inspiration, every idea), but test the spirits, to test whether they really come from God (or from the world)". But what does it mean to test the Spirit? It is simply this: when you feel something, you feel like doing something, or you come up with an idea, a judgment of something, ask yourself: is this what I feel from the Spirit of God or from the spirit of the world?
And how do you do it? Ask yourself once, twice a day, or when you feel something that comes into your mind: This thing that I feel, that I want to do, where does it come from? From the spirit of the world or the Spirit of God? Will this make me good or will it throw me down the road of worldliness that is unconsciousness?
Many Christians live without knowing what goes on in their hearts. That is why St. Paul and St. John say: "Do not lend faith to every spirit", to what you feel, but put it to the test. And so we will know what happens in our hearts. Because "For many Christians their hearts are like a road and they do not know who comes and goes, they come and go, because they do not know how to examine what is going on inside".
That is why I recommend that you take some time every day before going to bed or at noon - when you want to - and ask yourself: what has happened in my heart today? What did I want to do, to think? What is the spirit that has moved in my heart? The Spirit of God, the gift of God, the Holy Spirit who always brings me forward to the encounter with the Lord or the spirit of the world who gently, slowly moves me away from the Lord; it is a slow, slow, slow slide.
Let us ask for this grace, to remain in the Lord and we pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may make us remain in the Lord and give us the grace to distinguish the spirits, that is, what moves within us. May our heart not be a road, may it be the meeting point between us and God.
In these days, the Church has us listen to the eighth chapter of John: there is a strong discussion between Jesus and the doctors of the Law. And above all, He is trying to reveal His true identity: John wants to bring us close to that argument to reveal the identity of Jesus through the doctors of the law. Jesus puts them in a corner by showing them their own contradictions. And they, in the end, find no other way out than insult: it's one of the saddest pages, it's blasphemy. They insult Our Lady.
But speaking of His identity, Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, he advised them: "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples." He returns to that word so dear to the Lord that He will repeat it so many times, and then at the Last Supper: remain. "Stay in me." Remain in the Lord. He doesn't say, "Study well, learn the arguments well": that is taken for granted. But He goes to the most important thing, the one that is most dangerous in life, if you do not do it: remain. "Remain in my word." And those who remain in the word of Jesus have their own Christian identity. And what is it? "You will truly be my disciples." Christian identity is not a card that says "I am a Christian", an identity card: no. It's discipleship. If you remain in the Lord, in the Word of the Lord, in the life of the Lord, you will be a disciple. If you do not remain you will be someone who sympathizes with doctrine, who follows Jesus as a man who does so much charity, is so good, that He has just values, but discipleship is precisely the true identity of the Christian.
And it will be discipleship that will give us freedom: the disciple is a someone who is free because they remain in the Lord. And "remain in the Lord," what does it mean? To allow the Holy Spirit guide you. The disciple allows himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, for this reason the disciple is always someone of tradition and but can embrace novelty, he is a free man. Free. Never subject to ideologies, to doctrines within Christian life, doctrines that can be discussed. He remains in the Lord, it is the Spirit who inspires them. When we sing to the Holy Spirit, we tell him that he is a guest of the soul, that he dwells in us. But this is true, only if we remain in the Lord.
I ask the Lord the grace to let us know this wisdom to remain in Him and to let us know familiarity with the Spirit: the Holy Spirit gives us freedom. And this is an anointing. Those who remain in the Lord are disciples, and the disciple is anointed, an anointment of the Spirit, someone who has received the anointment of the Spirit carries it forward and allows it to bear fruit. This is the path that Jesus shows us for freedom and also for life. And the discipleship is the anointing that those who remain in the Lord receive.
May the Lord help us understand this, it's not easy: because the doctors did not understand it, it is not understood only with the head; we understand with our minds and hearts, this wisdom of the anointing of the Holy Spirit which makes us disciples.
Let us pray today for men and women who have a vocation in political life: politics is a high form of charity. For all political parties in different countries, that at this time of the pandemic they seek together the good of the country and not the good of their own party.
This man, Nicodemus, is a leader of the Jews, an authoritative man; he felt the need to go to Jesus. He went at night, because he had to do some balancing, because those who went to talk to Jesus were not looked on well. He was a just Pharisee, because not all Pharisees were bad: no, no; there were also good Pharisees. This was a just Pharisee. He felt restless, because he is a man who had read the prophets and knew that what Jesus did had been announced by the prophets. He felt that restlessness and went to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God": it is a confession, up to a point. "For no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him." And he stops. He stops in front of the "therefore." If I say this ... Therefore! ... And Jesus answered. He answered mysteriously, in a way that Nicodemus did not expect. He answered with that symbol of being born: if one is not born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. And Nicodemus feels confused, he doesn't understand and takes Jesus' answer literally: but how can a person be born again if one is an adult? Born from above, born from the Spirit. It's the step forward that Nicodemus has to make and he doesn't know how to do it. Because the Spirit is unpredictable. The definition of the Spirit that Jesus gives here is interesting: "The wind blows where it wants and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes: so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit", that is, free. A person who allows himself to be carried from one side to the other by the Holy Spirit: this is the freedom of the Spirit. And whoever does this is a docile person and here we are speaking about docility to the Spirit.
To be a Christian is not only to carry out the Commandments: they must be done, this is true; but if you stop there, you're not a good Christian. To be a good Christian is to let the Spirit enter into you and take you, take you where he wants. In our Christian life so often we stop like Nicodemus, before the "therefore", we do not know what step to take, we do not know how to do it or we do not have the confidence in God to take this step and let the Spirit enter. To be born again is to let the Spirit enter us and for the Spirit to lead us and not myself, and that is where the freedom is. With this freedom of the Spirit you will never know where you will end up.
The apostles, who were in the Cenacle, when the Spirit came they went out to preach with that courage, that boldness... they didn't know this was going to happen; and they did it, because the Spirit was guiding them. The Christian must never stop only at the fulfilment of the Commandments: it must be done, but go further, towards this new birth that is the birth in the Spirit, which gives you the freedom of the Spirit.
This is what happened to this Christian community in the first Reading, after John and Peter returned from that interrogation they had with the high priests. They went to their brothers in this community and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And the community, when they heard this, all together, they got a little scared. And what did they do? Pray. They did not stop at precautionary measures, "no, now let's do this, let's be a little quieter ...": no. They prayed that the Spirit should tell them what they should do. They raised their voices to God by saying, "Lord!" and prayed. This beautiful prayer in a dark moment, in a time when they had to make decisions and didn't know what to do. They want to be born of the Spirit, they open their hearts to the Spirit: let him tell us ... And they ask, "Lord, Herod and Pontius Pilate made an alliance with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel against your holy servant Jesus," they tell the story and say, "Lord, do something!" "And now, Lord, turn your gaze to their threats", that group of priests, "and allow your servants to proclaim your word with all boldness" – they ask for boldness, courage, not to be afraid – "stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of Jesus." "And when they had finished their prayers, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they proclaimed the word of God with boldness." A second Pentecost happened here.
Faced with difficulties, in front of a closed door, they did not know how to move forward, they go to the Lord, open their hearts and the Holy Spirit comes and gives them what they need and they go out to preach, courageously, and move forward. This is born of the Spirit, this is not to stop at the "therefore", at the "therefore" of the things I have always done, at the "therefore" that comes after the Commandments, at the "therefore" after religious habits: no! This is being born again. And how does one prepare to be born again? With prayer. Prayer is the thing that opens the door to the Spirit and gives us this freedom, this boldness, this courage of the Holy Spirit. And you'll never know where it's going to take you. But it's the Spirit.
May the Lord help us to always be open to the Spirit, for He will carry us forward in our lives of service to the Lord.
In this time there is so much silence. You can also hear the silence. May this silence, which is a little new in our habits, teach us to listen, make us grow in our ability to listen. Let us pray for it.
"To be born from above" (John 3:7) is to be born with the strength of the Holy Spirit. We cannot take hold of the Holy Spirit for ourselves; we can only allow him transform us. And our docility opens the door to the Holy Spirit: it is he who makes the change, transformation, this rebirth from above. It is Jesus' promise to send the (cf. Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit is capable of doing wonders, things that we cannot even think of.
An example is this first Christian community, which is not a fantasy, what they tell us here: it is a model, which can be achieved when there is docility and let the Holy Spirit in and transform us. We can say that this is an "ideal" community. It is true that soon after this problems will begin, but the Lord shows us how far we can go if we are open to the Holy Spirit, if we are docile. In this community there is harmony (cf. Acts 4:32-37). The Holy Spirit is the master of harmony, he is capable of doing it and he has done it here. He must do it in our hearts, he must change so many things about us, to make harmony: because he himself is harmony. The harmony between the Father and the Son and he is also the love of harmony, He. And with harmony he creates things such as this harmonious community. But then, history tells us – the Book of Acts of the Apostles itself – of so many problems in the community. This is a model: the Lord has allowed this model of an almost "heavenly" community to show us where we should go.
But then the divisions began in the community. The Apostle James, in the second chapter of his Letter, says: "May your faith be immune from personal favouritism" (James 2:1): because they were there! "Don't discriminate": the apostles must go out and warn this. And Paul, in the first Letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 11, complains: "I have heard that there are divisions among you" (cf. 1Cor 11:18): internal divisions begin in communities. This "ideal" must be arrived at, but it is not easy: there are many things that divide a community, whether a Christian parish or diocesan community or of priests or religious. So many things come in to divide the community.
Seeing the things that have divided the first Christian communities, I find three: first, money. When the Apostle James says this, not to have personal favouritism, he gives an example because "if in your church, in your assembly someone enters with a golden ring, and they immediately bring him to the front of the community, and the poor person is left on the side" (cf. James 2:2). Money. Paul himself says the same: "The rich bring food and they eat, and the poor standing" (cf. 1Cor 11:20-22), we leave them there as if to say to them: "Take care of yourselves as you can." Money divides, the love of money divides the community, divides the Church.
Many times, in the history of the Church, where there are doctrinal deviations – not always, but often – behind it is money: the money of power, both political power, and cash, but it is money. Money divides the community. For this reason, poverty is the mother of the community, poverty is the wall that guards the community. Money and self-interest divide. Even in families: how many families have ended up divided by an inheritance? How many families? And they never speak anymore ... How many families ... An inheritance ... They divide: money divides.
Another thing that divides a community is vanity, that desire to feel better than others. "I thank you, Lord, because I am not like the others" (cf. Luke 18:11), the prayer of the Pharisee. Vanity, makes me feel this ... And even the vanity to be seen, vanity in habits, in dressing: how many times – not always but how many times – the celebration of a sacrament is an example of vanity, who goes with the best clothes, who does that and the other ... Vanity ... For the biggest party ... That's where vanity comes in. And vanity divides. Because vanity leads you to be like a peacock and where there is a peacock, there is division, always.
A third thing that divides a community is gossip: it is not the first time I have said this, but it is reality. It's reality. That thing the devil puts in us, like a need to talk about others. "But what a good person he is ..." – "Yes, yes, but ...": immediately the "but": that is a stone to disqualify the other person and right away I say something that I have heard and so the other person is diminished a little.
But the Holy Spirit always comes with his strength to save us from this worldliness of money, vanity and gossip, because the Spirit is not of the world: is against the world. He is capable of doing these miracles, these great things.
Let us ask the Lord for this docility to the Spirit so that he may transform us and transform our communities, our parish, diocesan, religious communities: transform them, to always move forward in the harmony that Jesus wants for the Christian community.
Today is the commemoration of Saint Luisa de Marillac. Let us pray for the Vincentian sisters who have been running this clinic, this hospital for almost 100 years and have worked here, in Santa Marta, for this hospital. May the Lord bless the sisters.
We recited in the Psalm "Sing a new song to the Lord for he has done wondrous deeds. His right hand and his holy arm have gave him victory. The Lord has made his salvation known. He has revealed his justice to the nations." (Psalm 98: 1-2) This is true. The Lord has done marvellous things but with how much effort. How much effort for Christian communities to carry on these marvellous deeds of Lord. We have heard in the Acts of the Apostles the joy (Acts 13: 44-52): the whole city of Antioch gathered to hear the word of the Lord, because Paul and the apostles preached strongly and the Holy Spirit helped them. But "when they saw the crowds, the Jews were filled with jealousy, and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said." (: 45).
On the one hand there is the Lord, there is the Holy Spirit that makes the Church grow, and grow more and more, this is true. But on the other hand is the evil spirit that seeks to destroy the Church. It's always like that. Always like this. You go on, but then comes the enemy trying to destroy. The balance is always positive in the long run, but how much effort, how much pain, how much martyrdom!
This happened here, in Antioch, and it happens everywhere in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Think, for example, of Lystra, when they arrived and healed a crippled man and everyone believed they were gods and wanted to make sacrifices, and all the people were with them (Acts 14: 8-18). Then the others came and convinced them that it was not so. And how did Paul and his companion end up? Stoned ( Acts 14:9). Always this battle. Let us think of the magician Elymas, how he stopped the Gospel from reaching the consul (Acts 13: 6-12). Let us think of the owners of that girl who was a fortune teller: they exploited the girl, because she "read palms" and received the money that went into the pockets of her owners. And when Paul and the apostles showed others this lie that was not going well, immediately there was the revolution against them ( Acts 16: 16-24). Think of the artisans of the goddess Artèmis who lost business because they could not sell those figurines, because people no longer bought them, because they had converted. And so, one after the other. On the one hand, the Word of God that summons, that makes persecution grow, on the other hand persecution, and great persecution because it ends by driving them away, beating them.
And what is the devil's tool for destroying the Gospel proclamation? Envy. The Book of Wisdom says it clearly: "Because of the devils envy sin entered the world (Wisdom 2: 24) – envy, jealousy, here. Always this bitter, bitter feeling. These people saw how the Gospel was preached and they got angry, they were inflamed by anger. And this anger carried them on: it is the anger of the devil, it is the anger that destroys, the anger of that "crucify him! crucify him!"; of that torture of Jesus. It wants to destroy. Always. Always.
Seeing this battle, that very beautiful saying also applies to us: "The Church goes forward between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world" (cf. St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XVIII, 51,2). A Church that has no difficulty lacks something. The devil is too calm. And if the devil is calm, things are not going well. Always difficulty, temptation, struggle. Jealousy that destroys. The Holy Spirit makes the harmony of the Church, and the evil spirit destroys. Even today. Even today. Always this struggle. The instrument of this jealousy, of this envy, is the temporal power. Here it tells us that "the Jews incited the women of prominence who were worshipers"(Acts 13:50). They went to these women and said, "These are revolutionaries, expel them." The women talked to the others and expelled them: they were the women of prominence who were worshipers and also the leading men of the city (v:50). Those who have temporal power; and temporal power can be good: people can be good, but power of itself is always dangerous. The power of the world against the power of God moves all this; and always behind this, behind that power, is money.
What happens in the early Church: the work of the Holy Spirit to build the Church, to harmonize the Church, and the work of the evil spirit to destroy it, and the use of temporal powers to stop the Church, destroy the Church, is nothing more than a development of what happens on the morning of the Resurrection. The soldiers, seeing that triumph, went to the priests, and the priests "bought" the truth. And the truth has been silenced (Mt 28: 11-15). From the first morning of the Resurrection, the triumph of Christ, there is this betrayal, this silencing the word of Christ, silencing the triumph of the Resurrection with temporal power: the high priests and money.
Let us be careful, let us be careful with the preaching of the Gospel: never fall into putting trust in temporal powers and money. The trust of Christians is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit that he has sent! And it is precisely the Holy Spirit that is the yeast, it is the strength that makes the Church grow! Yes, the Church goes forward, in peace, with resignation, joyful: between the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world.
We join the faithful of Termoli on the feast of the discovery of the body of St. Timothy today. In these days many people have lost their jobs; they have not been re-employed, they worked illegally. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer from this lack of work.
Today's Gospel passage is Jesus' farewell at the Last Supper (John 14: 21-26). The Lord ends with this verse: "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and remind you of all I told you" (14: 25-26). It is the promise of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit who lives in us and who the Father and the Son send. "The Father will send him in my name," Jesus said, to accompany us in life. And they call him the Paraclete or Advocate. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. In Greek, the Paràclete is the one who supports, who accompanies so that you don't fall, who keeps you firm, who is close to you to support you. And the Lord has promised us this support, who is God like him: he is the Holy Spirit. What does the Holy Spirit do in us? The Lord tells us: "He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you"( 26). Teaching and remembering. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us: he teaches us the mystery of faith, he teaches us to enter into the mystery, to understand the mystery a little more. He teaches us the doctrine of Jesus and teaches us how to develop our faith without making mistakes, because doctrine grows, but always in the same direction: it grows in understanding. And the Holy Spirit helps us grow in understanding faith, understanding it more, understanding what faith says. Faith is not a static thing; doctrine is not a static thing: it grows. It grows as the trees grow, always the same, but larger, with fruit, but always the same, in the same direction. And the Holy Spirit prevents doctrine being wrong, it prevents it from standing still there, without growing in us. He will teach us the things that Jesus has taught us, he will develop in us an understanding of what Jesus has taught us, he will grow the doctrine of the Lord in us, to maturity.
And another thing Jesus says, that the Holy Spirit does, is to remind: "He will remind you of all that I have told you" (26). The Holy Spirit is like memory, he wakes us up: "But remember that, remember the other"; he keeps us awake, always awake in the Lord's things, and also reminds us of our lives: "Think of that moment, think about when you met the Lord, think about when you left the Lord."
I once heard that one person prayed before the Lord like this: "Lord, I am the same one who, as a child, as a boy, had these dreams. Then, I went along the wrong paths. Now you've called me." I am the same: this is the memory of the Holy Spirit in one's life. He brings you to the memory of salvation, to the memory of what Jesus taught, but also to the memory of one's life. And this made me think – this gentleman said – a beautiful way of praying, looking at the Lord: "I am the same. I've walked a lot, I've been wrong, but I'm the same and you love me." The memory of life's journey.
And in this memory, the Holy Spirit guides us; guides us to discern, to discern what I have to do now, what is the right path and what is wrong, even in small decisions. If we ask the Holy Spirit for light, He will help us discern to make the right decisions, the small ones of every day, and the greatest. He is who accompanies us, supports us in discernment. That is the Holy Spirit who teaches, will teach us everything, that is him who makes faith grow, who introduces us into the mystery, it is the Holy Spirit who reminds us. He reminds us of faith, he reminds us of our lives, and it is the Holy Spirit that in this teaching, in this memory, teaches us to discern the decisions we must make. And to the Gospel gives a name to the Holy Spirit: yes, Paràclete, because he supports you, but another more beautiful name: he is the Gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the Gift of God. The Holy Spirit is precisely the Gift. "I will not leave you alone, I will send you a Paràclete who will support you and help you move forward, remember, discern, and grow." The Gift of God is the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord help us to guard this gift that he has given us in Baptism and that we all have within us.
Today our prayer is for the many people who clean hospitals, the streets, empty the trash cans, who go to houses to take away the garbage: a job that no one sees, but it is a job that is necessary to survive. Let the Lord bless them and help them.
When Jesus takes his leave of the disciples (John 14: 15-21), Jesus gives them tranquillity and peace, with a promise: "I will not leave you orphans" (v. 18). He defends them from that pain, from that painful sense of being orphans. Today in the world there is a great sense of being orphans: many have many things, but the Father is missing. And in the history of humanity this is repeated: when the Father is missing, something is lacking and there is always the desire to meet, to find the Father, even in ancient myths. Let us think of the myths of Oedipus, Telemachus and many others: always looking for the Father who is missing.
Today we can say that we live in a society where the Father is missing, a sense of being orphans that touches belonging and fraternity. For this reason Jesus promises: "I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate" (v. 16). "I am leaving," Jesus says, "but another will come and teach you the way to the Father. He will remind you how to access the Father." The Holy Spirit does not come to make us his clients; he comes to show us the way to the Father, to remind us how to access the Father, which is what Jesus opened to us, what Jesus showed us. There is no spirituality only of the Son, only of the Holy Spirit: the centre is the Father. The Son is sent by the Father and returns to the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to remind us and teach us how to access the Father.
Only with this awareness of being children who are not orphans, can we live in peace among ourselves. Always wars, both small wars or big wars, always have a dimension of being orphans: the Father who makes peace is missing. For this reason, Peter at the first community says "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you why you are Christians, for a reason for your hope"( 1Pt 3: 15-18), "but, do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear" (v. 16), that is the gentleness that the Holy Spirit gives. The Holy Spirit teaches us this meekness, this sweetness of the Father's children. The Holy Spirit does not teach us to insult. And one of the consequences of the sense of orphanage is insult, wars, because if there is no Father there are no brothers and sisters, fraternity is lost. Sweetness, respect, meekness are attitudes of belonging, of belonging to a family that is sure they have a Father.
"I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate"(John 14: 16) who will remind you how to access the Father, he will remind you that we have a Father who is the centre of everything, the origin of everything, the unity of everything, the salvation of everyone because he sent his Son to save us all. And now he sends the Holy Spirt to remind us: how to access the Father and this fatherhood, this fraternal attitude of meekness, of sweetness, of peace.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to always, always remind us of this access to the Father, that He reminds us that we have a Father, and to this civilization, which has a great sense of being orphaned. may He grant them the grace to find the Father, the Father who gives meaning to all life and makes men and women a family.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Jesus links love for him to the observance of the commandments, and he insists on this in his farewell address: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (v. 15); "Whoever has my commandments and observes them, is the one who loves me." (14: 21) Jesus asks us to love him, but he explains: this love does not end in a desire for him, or in a feeling, no, it demands the willingness to follow his path, that is, the will of the Father. And this is summarised in the commandment of reciprocal love – the first love – given by Jesus himself: "Love one another, as I have loved you" (John 13: 34). He did not say, "Love me, as I have loved you," but "love one another as I have loved you." He loves us without asking us to do the same in return. Jesus love is gratuitous , he never asks us for love in return. And he wants his gratuitous love to become the concrete form of life among us: this is his will.
To help the disciples walk this path, Jesus promises that he will pray to the Father to send "another Paraclete" (v. 16), that is, a consoler, a defender who will take his place and give them the intelligence to listen and the courage to observe his words. This is the Holy Spirit, who is the Gift of God's Love that descends into the heart of the Christian. After Jesus died and rose again, his love is given to those who believe in him and are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit himself guides them, enlightens them, strengthens them, so that everyone can walk in life, even through adversity and difficulty, in joys and sorrows, remaining in Jesus' path. This is possible precisely by remaining docile to the Holy Spirit, so that, through His presence at work in us, He can not only console but transform hearts, opening them to truth and love.
Faced with the experience of error and sin – which we all do – the Holy Spirit helps us not to succumb and enables us to grasp and live fully the meaning of Jesus' words: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (v. 15). The commandments are not given to us as a kind of mirror, in which to see the reflection of our miseries, our inconsistencies. No, it's not like that. The Word of God is given to us as a Word of life, which transforms the heart, which renews, which does not judge to condemn, but heals and has forgiveness as its end. God's mercy is like this. A Word that is light for our steps. And all this is the work of the Holy Spirit! He is the Gift of God, he is God himself, who helps us to be free people, people who want and know how to love, people who have understood that life is a mission to proclaim the wonders that the Lord accomplishes in those who trust Him.
May the Virgin Mary, a model of the Church who knows how to listen to the Word of God and welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit, help us to live the Gospel with joy, knowing that we are sustained by the Spirit, a divine fire who warms our hearts and illuminates our steps.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today, in Italy and in other countries, we celebrate the solemnity of the Lord's Ascension. The passage of the Gospel ( Mt 28: 16-20) shows us the Apostles who gather in Galilee, "on the mountain that Jesus had told them to go to" (v. 16). Here on the mountain the final meeting of the Risen Lord with his followers takes place. The "mountain" has a strong symbolic, evocative meaning. On a mountain Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5,1-12); on the mountains he would retreat to pray (cf. Mt 14.23); there he welcomed the crowds and healed the sick (cf. Mt 15.29). But this time, on the mountain, he is no longer the Master who acts and teaches, but he is the Risen One who asks the disciples to act and to proclaim, entrusting them with the mandate to continue his work.
He invests them with the mission to all the people. He says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (28: 19-20). The contents of the mission entrusted to the Apostles are these: to proclaim, baptize, and to teach how to walk the path laid down by the Master, that is the living Gospel. This message of salvation implies first of all the duty of witness - without witness one cannot proclaim - to which we, today's disciples, are also called to explain the reason for our faith. Faced with such a demanding task, and thinking of our weaknesses, we feel inadequate, as the Apostles themselves surely felt. But we should not be discouraged, remembering the words Jesus addressed to them before ascending to Heaven: "I am with you always until the end of the age" (see 20).
This promise ensures the constant and consoling presence of Jesus among us. But how is this presence be realized? Through his Spirit, which leads the Church to walk through history as a companion of every person. That Spirit, sent by Christ and the Father, works the remission of sins and sanctifies all those who are repentant and open themselves with confidence to his gift. With the promise to remain with us until the end of time, Jesus inaugurates the style of his presence in the world as the Risen One. Jesus is present in the world but in another style, the style of the Risen One, that is, a presence that is revealed in the Word, in the Sacraments, in the constant and inner action of the Holy Spirit. The feast of Ascension tells us that Jesus, although having ascended to Heaven to dwell gloriously at the right of the Father, is still and is always among us: this is the source of our strength, our perseverance and our joy, precisely from the presence of Jesus among us with the strength of the Holy Spirit.
May the Virgin Mary accompany our journey with her maternal protection: from her may we learn the gentleness and courage to be witnesses in the world of the Risen Lord.
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor 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: Saint 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. No. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. With the anointing comes their union – union in diversity. 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 in the Spirit there is harmony. 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. This is a bad temptation that brings division. 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 equal, in this respect, 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 one ideology or the other; 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 also see that the Apostles devised no strategy; when they were locked in there, in the Upper Room, they were not strategizing, no, they were not drafting any 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, in an orderly manner... 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”. This is a terrible disease that can also infect the Church: making her into a nest instead of a community, a family or a Mother. The Spirit himself 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 opening part of the First Letter of Saint John is beautiful: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you” (cf. 1:3).
Here we come to understand what the secret of unity is, the secret of the Spirit. The secret of unity in the Church, the secret of the Spirit 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 who 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, so to speak, three main enemies of the gift, 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!”. How many times have we not heard these complaints! 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. This is victimhood. 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 narcissist idol of the mirror, the mirror-god; the complaint-god: “I feel human only when I complain”; and the negativity-god: “everything is dark, the future is bleak” – we experience a famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism. He heals us from the mirror, complaints and darkness.
Brothers and sisters, 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.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
The first gift of every Christian existence is the Holy Spirit. It is not one of many gifts, but rather the fundamental Gift. The Spirit is the gift that Jesus had promised to send us. Without the Spirit there is no relationship with Christ and with the Father, because the Spirit opens our heart to God’s presence and draws it into that “vortex” of love that is the very heart of God. We are not merely guests and pilgrims on a journey on this earth; we are also guests and pilgrims of the Trinity. We are like Abraham, who one day, welcoming three wayfarers in his own tent, encountered God. If we can truly invoke God, calling him “Abba - Daddy”, it is because the Holy Spirit dwells in us; He is the One who transforms us deep within and makes us experience the moving joy of being loved by God as his true children. All the spiritual work within us towards God is performed by the Holy Spirit, this gift. He works within us to carry forward out Christian life towards the Father, with Jesus.
The Catechism, in this respect says: “Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action” (no. 2670). This is the work of the Spirit in us. He “reminds” us of Jesus and makes him present to us - we might say that he is our Trinitarian memory, he is the memory of God in us - and he makes it present to Jesus, so that he is not reduced to a character from the past: that is, the Spirit brings Jesus to the present in our consciousness. If Christ were only far away in time, we would be alone and lost in the world. Yes, we will remember Jesus, there, far away but it is the Spirit that brings him today, now, in this moment, in our heart. But in the Spirit everything is brought to life: the possibility of encountering Christ is open to Christians of every time and place. The possibility of encountering Christ, not only as a historical figure, is open. No: he attracts Christ to our hearts, it is the Spirit who makes us encounter Jesus. He is not distant, the Spirit is with us: Jesus still teaches his disciples by transforming their hearts, as he did with Peter, with Paul, with Mary Magdalene, with all the apostles. But why is Jesus present? Because it is the Spirit who brings him to us.
This is the experience of so many people who pray: men and women whom the Holy Spirit has formed according to the “measure” of Christ, in mercy, in service, in prayer, in catechesis… It is a grace to be able to meet people like this: you realise that a different life pulses in them, the way they look “beyond”. We can think not only of monks and hermits; they are also found among ordinary people, people who have woven a long history of dialogue with God, sometimes of inner struggle, that purifies their faith. These humble witnesses have sought God in the Gospel, in the Eucharist received and adored, in the face of a brother or sister in difficulty, and they safeguard his presence like a secret flame.
The first task of Christians is precisely to keep alive this flame that Jesus brought to the earth (see Lk 12:49), and what is this flame? It is love, the Love of God, the Holy Spirit. Without the fire of the Spirit, His prophecies are extinguished, sorrow supplants joy, routine substitutes love, and service turns into slavery. The image of the lighted lamp next to the Tabernacle, where the Eucharist is reserved, comes to mind. Even when the church empties and evening falls, even when the church is closed, that lamp remains lit, and continues to burn; no one sees it, yet it burns before the Lord. This is how the Spirit is in our heart, always present like that lamp.
Again we read in the Catechism: “The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church” (no. 2672). Very often it happens that we do not pray, we don’t feel like praying, or many times we pray like parrots, with the mouth, but our heart is not in it. This is the moment to say to the Spirit: “Come, come Holy Spirit, warm my heart. Come and teach me to pray, teach me to look to the Father, to look to the Son. Teach me the path of faith. Teach me how to love and, above all, teach me to have an attitude of hope”. It means calling on the Spirit continually, so he may be present in our lives.
It is therefore the Spirit who writes the history of the Church and of the world. We are open books, willing to receive his handwriting. And in each of us the Spirit composes original works, because there is never one Christian who is completely identical to another. In the infinite field of holiness, the one God, the Trinity of Love, allows the variety of witnesses to flourish: all are equal in dignity, but also unique in the beauty that the Spirit has willed to be released in each of those whom God's mercy has made his children. Let us not forget, the Spirit is present, he is present in us. Let us listen to the Spirit, let us call to the Spirit - he is the gift, the present that God has given us - and say to him: “Holy Spirit, I do not know your face - we do not know it - but I know that you are the strength, that you are the light, that you are able to make me go forth, and to teach me how to pray. Come, Holy Spirit”. This is a beautiful prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit”.