» 05/27/2012, 00.00
Papa: Pentecost, feast of unity in a divided world that thinks it does not need God
Benedict XVI's homily stresses the contrast between Pentecost and Babel. "Unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate." On 7 October, at the start of the Synod of Bishops, he will proclaim Saint John of Ávila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen, doctors of the universal Church.
City (AsiaNews) - Pentecost, the "baptism of the Church', is the feast of unity,
of understanding God's choice, against those who "believe they are so powerful
they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put
themselves in God's place." Benedict XVI stressed this dualism between
Pentecost and "Babel" on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary
and the Apostles, a day in which he announced that at the start of the next
Synod of Bishop, he will proclaim Saint John of Ávila and Saint Hildegard of
Bingen, doctors of the universal Church.
the pontiff said during the Mass he celebrated this morning in Saint Peter's
Basilica, "is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing. We can all
see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through
developments in communications, with geographical distances that seemingly
disappear-understanding and sharing among people is often superficial and
difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue
between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily
events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent;
understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain
inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests."
is the opposite of the "unity" that, following today's Biblical readings, led the
pope to mention Babel, "a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much
power they think they no longer need to depend on a God who is far away. They
believe they are so powerful that they can build their own way to heaven in
order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it is precisely
at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are
working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one
another. Whilst trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being
human-because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to
agree, understand one another and work together."
"This biblical story contains an eternal
truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well.
Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature,
to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of
manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded,
pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise
we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the
possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news
- but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or,
paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like
feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into
human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to
another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really
answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's
Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to
communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost.
let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus says, 'When he comes, the Spirit of
truth, He will guide you to the whole truth' (John, 16:13). Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining
to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be
the place of unity and communion in Truth; he tells us that acting like
Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves
towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better
still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like
a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself-but I do so in everything
and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and
truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them
to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the
Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine
and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off
inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the
"ourselves" of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it is
clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to
become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where
they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open
themselves to the action of his Spirit, which supports and unites them.
the Regina Caeli after the Mass, addressing the 30,000 people present in St
Peter's Square, the pope said, "The Spirit, who spoke 'through the prophets',
with the gift of knowledge and science continues to inspire women and men who
engage in the pursuit of truth, proposing original path towards knowledge and
greater understanding of the mystery of God, man and the world. In this
contest, I am happy to announce that this coming 7 October, at the start of the
Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, I shall proclaim Saint John of Ávila
and Saint Hildegard of Bingen, doctors of the universal Church. These two great
witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and came from
different cultural backgrounds. Hildegard was a Benedictine nun at the height
of the Middle Ages, a true teacher of theology, and a major scholar in the natural
sciences and music. John, a diocesan priest during the Spanish Renaissance,
took part in the work of cultural and religious renewal of the Church and
society at the dawn of modernity. But the sanctity of life and depth of
teaching makes them perpetually present: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact,
projected them into that experience of penetrating understanding of divine
revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitutes the horizon
of permanent life and action of the Church."
in light of the project of the New Evangelisation, to which the Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops will be dedicated, and on the vigil of the Year of Faith,
these two figures of saints and doctors are of considerable importance and
relevance. Even in our day and age, through their teachings, the Spirit of the
Risen Lord continues to resonate in his voice and enlighten the way that leads
to the only Truth that can make us free and give full meaning to our life."
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