Pope Francis celebrated Pentecost Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter's Basilica in the presence of a small number of worshippers because of anti-pandemic rules. The “Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message.” As “the living memory of the Church,” it “reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving”. Narcissism, victimhood and pessimism are the obstacles to giving oneself. Everyone can give themselves during the "famine of hope".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis this morning celebrated Pentecost Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter's Basilica in front of very few worshippers because of the ban on large gatherings to curb the pandemic.
“The world sees us only as on the right or left; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father,” said the pontiff to describe the power of the Holy Spirit in the Church, which can “bring together the many” and lead the faithful in the work of proclaiming the Word and giving oneself, offering hope to a post-pandemic world full of distrust.
In his homily, Francis stressed first and foremost the “unifying power of the Spirit”. The apostles included people “from different backgrounds and social contexts, and they had Hebrew and Greek names. In terms of character, some were meek and others were excitable; they all had different ideas and sensibilities. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. He left their differences and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit. The union comes with the anointing. At Pentecost, the Apostles understand the unifying power of the Spirit.
“We too have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities. The temptation is always fiercely to defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. [. . .] [L]et us look at the Church with the eyes of the Spirit and not as the world does. The world sees us only as on the right or left; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus. The world sees conservatives and progressives; the Spirit sees children of God. A worldly gaze sees structures to be made more efficient; a spiritual gaze sees brothers and sisters pleading for mercy. The Spirit loves us and knows everyone’s place in the grand scheme of things: for him, we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.
“If we go back to the day of Pentecost, we discover that the first task of the Church is proclamation. Yet we also see that the Apostles devised no strategy, had no pastoral plan. [. . .] He opens doors and pushes us to press beyond what has already been said and done, beyond the precincts of a timid and wary faith. In the world, unless there is tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message. The Apostles set off: unprepared, yet putting their lives on the line. One thing kept them going: the desire to give what they received.”
The secret of unity, the secret of the Spirit, is giving. “It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving. Why is this important? Because our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that what we are is his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God. The Spirit, the living memory of the Church, reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving: not by holding on but by giving of ourselves.”
The pontiff listed the obstacles to giving oneself – narcissism, victimhood, and pessimism – and showed the effect of the current situation in a world trying to overcome the pandemic.
“Narcissism makes us idolize ourselves, to be concerned only with what is good for us. [. . .] In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is: the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others, and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes. But the second enemy, victimhood, is equally dangerous. Victims complain every day about their neighbour: ‘No one understands me, no one helps me, no one loves me, everyone has it in for me!’ The victim’s heart is closed, as he or she asks, ‘Why aren’t others concerned about me?’ In the crisis we are experiencing, how ugly victimhood is! Thinking that no one understands us and experiences what we experience. Finally, there is pessimism. Here the unending complaint is: ‘Nothing is going well, society, politics, the Church…’.
“The pessimist gets angry with the world, but sits back and does nothing, thinking: ‘What good is giving? That is useless.’ At this moment, in the great effort of beginning anew, how damaging is pessimism, the tendency to see everything in the worst light and to keep saying that nothing will return as before! When someone thinks this way, the one thing that certainly does not return is hope.”
The Pope reiterated the same concepts with other words, then added: “We are experiencing a famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is. We need the Holy Spirit, the gift of God who heals us of narcissism, victimhood and pessimism.”
Francis ended his homily with a prayer. “Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit: you are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family. Amen.”