VATICAN CITY — Around 200,000 pilgrims packed St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Pentecost with Pope Francis, who called on them to be open to “God’s surprises” because they bring true happiness.
“This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day,” the Pope said May 19.
“The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good,” he stated.
Pope Francis gave his homily during a 10:30am Mass with Church movements and associations from Europe, Asia and Africa in St. Peter’s Square.
They arrived in Rome for a series of weekend events centered on the Year of Faith, which included a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb, music and testimonies. Their encounter with the Pope began the afternoon on May 18, when he held a prayer vigil with them, and it finished with May 19 Mass.
The Holy Father dedicated his homily to three ways that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians: “newness, harmony and mission.”
Speaking about the “newness” the Holy Spirit brings, he explained that it requires letting him be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision.
But the newness and change he brings lasts because it is truly fulfilling and creates joy, the Pope said.
He then posed a series of questions to the crowd:
“Are we open to ‘God’s surprises?’ Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?”
The second aspect of the Spirit’s work is that he gives different gifts to people, creating diversity in the Church that ends up all being united in harmony by him.
“One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: 'The Holy Spirit himself is harmony' — Ipse harmonia est,” the Pope said.
He warned that when “we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division.”
The key, Pope Francis taught, is to “let ourselves be guided by the Spirit” and live in and with the Church.
“It is the Church which brings Christ to me and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous!” he said.
“When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ,” the Pope told the communities.
“So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?”
Pope Francis’ final point centered on how the “Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.”
“The older theologians,” he recalled, “used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind that fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward.”
He explained that the Holy Spirit “draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church that is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself.”
Instead, the Spirit “impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ,” the Pope preached.
Although the events of Pentecost took place “almost 2,000 years ago,” they are not “something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us.”
“The Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis noted, “makes us look to the horizon and drives us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ.
“Let us ask ourselves: Do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”
He closed his homily by asking God the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit again, using the Latin invocation, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus!” (Come, Holy Spirit!).
After Mass, Pope Francis recited the Regina Coeli prayer with the assembly, thanking them for their presence and saying that the Holy Spirit renewed Pentecost and changed St. Peter’s Square into an open-air Upper Room.