By Virginia Forrester

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today, Solemnity of Pentecost, before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Regina Caeli:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today, as the Square is open, we can return; it’s a pleasure!

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, recalling the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the first Christian community. Today’s Gospel (Cf. John 20:19-23), takes us back to the Easter evening and shows us Jesus risen who appears in the Cenacle, where the disciples had sought refuge. They were afraid. “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!'(v. 19).” These first words pronounced by the Risen One: “Peace be with you,” must be considered more than a greeting: they express forgiveness, forgiveness given to the disciples that, to tell the truth, had abandoned Him. They are words of reconciliation and forgiveness. And we too, when we wish peace to others, are giving forgiveness and asking also for forgiveness. Jesus offers His peace in fact to these disciples who are afraid, who find it hard to believe what they have seen, namely, the empty sepulcher, and underestimating the testimony of Mary Magdalene and of the other women. Jesus forgives, He always forgives, and He offers His peace to His friends. Don’t forget: Jesus doesn’t tire of forgiving. We are the ones that tire of asking for forgiveness.

Forgiving the disciples and gathering them around Him, Jesus makes of them a Church, His Church, which is a reconciled community and ready for the mission – reconciled and ready for the mission. When a community isn’t reconciled, it’s not ready for the mission: it’s ready to argue within itself, it’s ready for internal disputes. The encounter with the Risen Lord overturns the Apostles’ existence and transforms them into courageous witnesses. In fact, immediately after, He says: “As the Father has sent Me, even so, I send you” (v. 212). These words make us understand that the Apostles are invited to prolong the mission itself, which the Father entrusted to Jesus. “I send you: it’s not the time to be locked up, or to regret, regretting the “good times,” those past times with the Master. The joy of the Resurrection is great, but it’s an expansive joy, which is not kept for oneself, it’s to be given. In the Sundays of Eastertide we first heard this same episode, then the meeting with the disciples of Emmaus, then the Good Shepherd, the farewell address and the promise of the Holy Spirit — all this is to reinforce the faith of the disciples, and also ours, in view of the mission.

It is, in fact, to animate the mission. Jesus gives the Apostles His Spirit. The Gospel says: “He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit’” (v.22). The Holy Spirit is fire that burns sins and creates new men and women; He is fire of love with which the disciples will be able to “fire” the world, that love of tenderness that prefers the little ones, the poor, the excluded . . . We received the Holy Spirit with His gifts in the Sacraments of Baptism and of Confirmation: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. This last gift, fear of God, is in fact the contrary of the fear that before paralyzed the disciples: it is love of the Lord, it is the certainty of His mercy and His goodness, it is the confidence to be able to move in the direction He indicates, without ever lacking His presence and His support.

The feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that the vivifying presence of the Holy Spirit dwells in us. He also gives us the courage to go outside of the protective walls of our “cenacles,” of groups, without spoiling us in quiet living or locking ourselves in sterile habits. Let us raise our thought now to Mary. She was there, with the Apostles, when the Holy Spirit came, protagonist with the first Community of the wonderful experience of Pentecost. Let us pray to her to obtain an ardent missionary spirit for the Church.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Regina Caeli

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Amazonian Synod concluded seven months ago. Today, the feast of Pentecost, we invoke the Holy Spirit that He may give light and strength to the Church and to the society in Amazonia, harshly tried by the pandemic. Many are infected and deceased, also among the indigenous peoples, particularly vulnerable. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Amazonia, I pray for the poor and the helpless of that dear Region, but also for those of the whole world, and I make an appeal so no one is lacking health care. Take care of people, not save for the economy. Take care of people, who are more important than the economy. We, persons, are temples of the Holy Spirit, not the economy.

Observed today in Italy is National Relief Day, to promote solidarity in caring for the sick. I renew my appreciation to all those that, especially in this period, have offered or offer their witness of care for their neighbor. I remember with gratitude and admiration all those that, supporting the sick in this pandemic, have given their life. Let us pray in silence for the doctors, the volunteers, the nurses, all health workers, and the many that gave their lives in this period.

I wish you all a happy Pentecost Sunday. We are in such need of the light and strength of the Holy Spirit! The Church needs it, to walk in concord and witness courageously the Gospel. And the whole human family needs Him, to come out of this crisis more united and not more divided. You know that one doesn’t come out the same, as before, from a crisis like this one: one comes out better or worse. May we have the courage to change, to be better, to be better than before, and to be able to build positively the post-crisis of the pandemic.

Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and see you soon, in the Square!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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