"People, often reduced to competing and conflicting individuals, having been touched by the Spirit of Christ, open themselves to the experience of communion, which can envelop them to the point that they form a new organism, a new entity: the Church. The effect of God's work is unity. Thus unity is the sign of recognition, the 'calling card' of the Church in the course of her universal history. Ever since the beginning, since the day of Pentecost, she has spoken all languages". - Pope Benedict XVI
VATICAN CITY, 23 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Commenting on the Pentecost narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Father explained how "from the Son of God - Who died, rose again then returned to the Father - the divine breath, the Holy Spirit, now descends on humankind with unprecedented energy. And what", he asked, "does God's new and powerful self-communication produce? Wherever there is rupture and estrangement, He brings unity and understanding.
"A process of reunification begins among the different and divided parts of the human family", he added. "People, often reduced to competing and conflicting individuals, having been touched by the Spirit of Christ, open themselves to the experience of communion, which can envelop them to the point that they form a new organism, a new entity: the Church. The effect of God's work is unity. Thus unity is the sign of recognition, the 'calling card' of the Church in the course of her universal history. Ever since the beginning, since the day of Pentecost, she has spoken all languages".
"The Church", Benedict XVI explained, "is never a prisoner of political, racial or cultural boundaries. She must not be confused with other States or with federations of States because hers is a different unity; it aspires to cross all human frontiers.
"From this, dear brothers and sisters derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: when a person or a community close themselves inside their own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign they have distanced themselves from the Holy Spirit. Christians and particular Churches must always compare themselves, and seek harmony, with the one Catholic Church".
The Holy Father went on: "The unity of the Spirit is expressed in the plurality of understanding. The Church is by her nature one and multiple, being destined to live in all nations, with all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She fulfils her vocation of being a sign and instrument of unity of the entire human race, only if she remains independent of all States and all specific cultures. Always and everywhere the Church must be truly catholic and universal, a home with which everyone can identify".
"At Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared as a fire", said the Pope, noting "how different this fire was from that of wars and bombs. How different is the immolation of Christ, as propagated by the Church, from the fires ignited by dictators of all ages, even last century, which left behind them only scorched earth".
"The flame of the Holy Spirit burns but does not injure, and yet it achieves a transformation. ... However this effect of the divine fire scares us, we are afraid of being 'scalded' and would prefer to remain as we are. This depends on the fact that our lives often follow a logic of having, of possession and not of giving. ... On the one hand we want to be with Jesus, to follow Him closely, on the other we are afraid of the consequences this brings".
We must, Benedict XVI told the faithful, "be able to recognise that losing something, losing ourselves, for the true God, the God of love and life, is in fact a gain, it means rediscovering oneself more fully. Those who entrust themselves to Jesus experience peace and joy of heart already in this life, things the world cannot give, and cannot take away once God has given them to us. It is worthwhile, then, to allow ourselves to be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit. The pain this brings is necessary for our transformation".
The Pope concluded by calling on the Holy Spirit "to ignite the flame of your love in us. We know this is an audacious payer, with which we ask to be touched by the flame of God; yet we know that this flame alone has the power to save us. We do not want, in order to defend our lives, to lose the eternal life God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems".
HML/ VIS 20100524 (720)