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 martyrdom".
"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".