Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The gift of the Holy Spirit - which Church celebrates today the feast of Pentecost - is the realization of the prayer and the promise of Jesus Christ: " I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! "(Luke 12:49).
The fire of the Holy Spirit is different from the fire of “war and bombs”, from the fires “lit by the dictators of every age”. It “brings out the best and most genuine in mankind ... our call to truth and love " . At the same time the Spirit creates the unity and universality of the Church. It expresses itself in every language, but "never remains a prisoner of political, racial or cultural confines, it can not be confused with States nor with the Federation of States, because its unity is different in kind and aims to cross all human boundaries. "
Benedict XVI’s homily during today’s celebration was marked by the symbol of the "fire" that generates "the 'new course' of God's work that began with the resurrection of Christ, a work that involves mankind, history and the cosmos .
Referring to the story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11) and the list of peoples who first hear, "the mighty works of God" in their own languages, the Pope shows what "God’s self-communication" produces in the world: "Where there are tears and alienation it creates unity and understanding. It triggers a process of reunification between the divided and scattered factions of the human family, people, often reduced to individuals in competition or conflict, reached by the Spirit of Christ, open up to the experience of communion, which may involve them to such a point that it makes of them a new organism, a new subject: the Church”.
Unity - continues the pope - is "the calling card of the Church." It clarifies: "The universal Church precedes the particular Churches, and they must always conform themselves to it, according to a criterion of unity and universality. The Church never remains a prisoner of political, racial or cultural confines, it is not to be confused with the States and even with the Federation of States, because its unity is different in kind and aims to move through all human boundaries. "
The Pope’s emphasis on unity comes in the midst of recent moves by particular churches - Germany, Austria, ... – which are demanding changes and adaptations of the tradition of faith. At the same time, meetings with the Russian Orthodox Church were held just last week in Rome, aiming for greater collaboration between Eastern and Western Church against the secularism and materialism of society.
"The journey of Christians and particular churches - the pope states - must always compare themselves to and harmonise themselves with that of the one Catholic Church." And again: "The church is by its nature one and manifold, destined as it is to live among all nations, all peoples, and in various social contexts. It responds to its vocation, to be a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race (cf. Lumen gentium, 1) only if it remains independent from all states and all particular cultures. Always and everywhere the Church must be truly Catholic and Universal, the house that belongs to all peoples where everyone can find themselves".
The fire of the Spirit also transforms society: "The Apostles, together with believers of different communities, have brought this divine flame to the ends of the Earth, thus they opened a path for humanity, an illuminated road, and they collaborated with God who with his fire wants to renew the face of the earth. How different this fire is from that of war and bombs! How different the fire of Christ is, propagated by the Church, than that of the dictators of every age, even those of the last century, which left behind scorched earth. The fire of God, the fire of the Holy Spirit, is the fire of the bush that rages without burning (cf. Ex 3:2). It is a flame that burns but does not destroy, indeed, its flames bring out the best and truest in man, like in a fusion it reveals his inner form, his call to truth and love. "
"And yet - continues the pope - it [the flame of the Spirit - ed] transforms, and therefore must consume something in man, the waste that corrupts and hinders his relationship with God and his neighbour. This effect of the divine fire, however, frightens us, we are afraid of being 'burned', preferring to stay as we are. This is because many times our life is set according to the logic of having, of possession and not giving. Many people believe in God and admire the figure of Jesus Christ, but when they are asked to lose something of themselves, then they draw back, afraid of the demands of faith. "
The Pope goes on to say: "In losing something, indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and life, we actually gain something, we find ourselves more fully. Those who entrust themselves to Jesus in this life experience a peace and joy of heart, that the world can not give them or take away from them once gifted by God. It is therefore worthwhile to allow ourselves be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit! The pain that it brings us is necessary for our transformation”.
"Therefore - he concludes - enlightened and comforted by these words of life, we raise our plea: Come, Holy Spirit! Kindle in us the fire of thy love! We now that this is a audacious prayer, with which we ask to be touched by the flame of God, but above all we know that this flame - and it alone - has the power to save. We do not want to loose our eternal life, that God wants to gift us, in order to defend our earthly one. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems. Amen.