Vatican City (AsiaNews) - At Pentecost, with "the outpouring of the
Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room" a Church that "surprises
and unsettles" was born; a Church which "no one expected to hear
anymore of" and that "announces a new message"; a Church that is
not a paralyzed by "fear" that "will not settle with being merely innocuous
or decorative"; a Church "that does not hesitate to come out, meet the
people, to proclaim the message that it has been entrusted." "A
Church that does not have the ability to surprise, is a weak, sick Church, that
needs to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit". These are some features of
the Church traced by Pope Francis today before praying the Regina Caeli.
Speaking of today's feast, Pentecost, to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's
Square, he explained Pentecost's element of "surprise": "No one
expected anything from the disciples: after Jesus' death it was an
insignificant, defeated group, orphaned of their Master. Instead there is an
unexpected event that arouses wonder: people were unsettled because each heard
the disciples speak in their own language, telling the mighty works of God (cf.
Acts 2,6-7.11.) The Church that was born in Pentecost is a community that
inspires awe because, with the strength that comes from God, it announces a new
message - the Resurrection of Christ - with a new language - universal love. The
disciples are clothed with power from on high and speak with courage and
frankness, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit".
"This - he added - is how the Church is called to always be: capable
of surprising everyone by announcing
that Jesus Christ has conquered death, that God's arms are always open, that His
patience is always there waiting for us, to heal and forgive . It was precisely
for this mission that the Risen Jesus gave His Spirit to the Church. "
And moving from his texted script he added a phrase greeted by much applause:
"But be careful: if the Church is alive, it is always surprising. A Church
that does not have the ability to surprise, is a weak, sick Church, that must
be hospitalized in intensive care".
Explaining how the Church should "unsettle" he said, "Some in Jerusalem,
would have preferred the disciples of Jesus, paralyzed by fear, to remain
locked in the house so as not to create confusion." "Even today - he
added - many would like this from Christians."
"Instead - he continued - the Risen Lord leads them into the
world:" As the Father has sent me, so I send you "(Jn 20:21). The
Church of Pentecost is a Church that will not settle for being reduced to an
innocuous, decorative thing. It is a Church
that does not hesitate to come out, meet the people, to proclaim the message
that it has been entrusted, even if that message unsettles and worries
consciences. Even if that message brings us problems and often leads to
"The Church is born one and universal, with a distinct, but open
identity, a Church that embraces the world but not capture it, like as the
colonnade of this square, two arms open to receive, but which do not close in
on themselves to keep [people] in". And he stressed: "We Christians
are free and the Church wants us free."
The Pope then invoked the Virgin Mary, "who the morning of Pentecost was
in the Upper Room with the disciples. The power of the Holy Spirit really
accomplished "great things" in her(Lk 1:49). Mother of the Redeemer and Mother
of the Church, through her intercession May she obtain for us a renewed
outpouring of the Spirit of God, on the Church and the world".
After the Marian prayer of the Easter season - tomorrow we return to the Angelus
- Francis recalled that this evening at 7pm, the presidents of Israel and
Palestine will join him and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople,
"my brother Bartholomew," " to ask God for the gift of peace in
the Holy Land, the Middle East and throughout the world. " While making the
announcement, some young people in the square waved dozens of Palestinian
"I want to thank - said the Pope - all those who, personally and in the
community, who have prayed and are praying for this meeting, and who will be
joined spiritually to our supplication. Thank you".