Holy Spirit breathes life into the Church, Catholic from the first moment, says pope
Closely following the liturgical texts, the pope stressed above all the fact that the “Spirit that created all things, and the Holy Spirit Christ brought from the Padre to the community of disciples, are one and the same. Creation and redemption go together, and constitute, deep down, a single mystery of love and salvation.”
“The Holy Spirit is first of all the Spirit that creates,” the Pontiff said. “Thus, Pentecost is the feast day of creation. For us Christians, the world is the fruit of an act of God’s love, who made everything, of which he is happy because he saw ‘how good it was’ and ‘found it to be very good’ (cf Gen, 1:1-31). Thus, God is not completely the other, unmentionable and obscure. God reveals himself, has a face. God is reason, God is will, God is love, God is beauty.”
Turning to the second reading of the Mass (1 Cor 12, 3b-7;12-13), he added, “The Holy Spirit is He who has Himself recognised in Christ the Lord, who leads us to make the profession of faith of the Church: ‘Jesus is Lord’ (cf 1 Cor 12,3b). Lord is the title given to God in the Old Testament, title that replaced of that could not be mentioned during the reading of the Bible. The Church’s creed is nothing more than the development of what is said when we say, ‘Jesus is Lord’.”
“The expression ‘Jesus is Lord’ can be read two ways,” the pope said. “It means Jesus is God, and God is Jesus. The Holy Spirit illuminates this reciprocity. Jesus has divine dignity, and God has the human face of Jesus. God shows himself in Jesus and thus gives us the truth about ourselves. Letting ourselves be deeply enlightened by this word is the event of Pentecost”.
Benedict XVI also discussed the Gospel (John, 20:19-23), which “offers us a marvellous image to show the connection between Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. The Holy Spirit is depicted as the breath of the Risen Jesus Christ (cf John, 20:22). John the Evangelist presents an image taken from the story of creation, in which God blew into his (man’s) nostrils the breath of life (cf Gen, 2:7). God’s breath is life. Now, the Lord blows into our souls the new breath of life, the Holy Spirit, his most intimate essence, and this way welcomes us into the family of God. Through the Baptism and confirmation, this gift is specifically made to us, and through the sacraments of the Eucharist and Atonement, it is continuously repeated. The Lord blows the breath of life in our soul. All the Sacraments, each in its own way, tell man about divine life, thanks to the Holy Spirit who works through them.”
All this has a radical impact on the Church. “The Holy Spirit,” the pope said, “breathes life into the Church. It is does not come from human will, reflection, capacities or organisational capabilities because if that were the case, it would have become extinct long ago, like all things human. It is instead in the Body of Christ, brought to life by the Holy Spirit”.
As he described the story of Pentecost from the Acts of the Apostles (2, 1-11), the Holy Father said, “With this, we are told an important thing. The Church is Catholic from the first moment; its universality is not the fruit of the subsequent inclusion of various communities. From the first instant in fact, the Holy Spirit created it as the Church of all the peoples. It embraces the entire world. It transcends boundaries of race, class or nation. It tears down all the barriers and unites men in the profession of the one and triune God. Since the beginning, the Church was one, Catholic and Apostolic. This is its true nature and must be recognised as such. It is holy, not because of the capacities of its members, but because God himself, with his Spirit, always creates and sanctifies it.”
“Finally,” the pope noted, “today’s Gospel contains this beautiful sentence: ‘The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord’ (John, 20:20). These words are profoundly human. The lost Friend is present again, and those who were distressed now rejoice. But, it says much more because the lost Friend does not come from anywhere, but from the night of death, which he has crossed. He is not just anybody but is the Friend and the One who is the Truth that makes men live. What he gives is not just any joy, but joy itself, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is great to live because we are loved, and Truth loves me! The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Today, on Pentecost, this expression is destined for all of us as well, because in faith we can see Him. In faith, he comes between us and also to us, he shows his hands and hip, which makes us rejoice. Thus, we want to pray. ‘Lord, show yourself! Give us the gift of your presence, and we shall have the most beautiful gift, your joy. Amen!’”
At noon, Benedict XVI spoke for the Regina Caeli from the window of his studio to the pilgrims in St Peter’s Square. In his address, he mentioned that Fr Alois Andritzki, who was martyred by the Nazis at the age of 28, would be beatified tomorrow in Dresden (Germany).
“Let us praise the Lord,” the pope said, “for this heroic witness of the faith, who joins the ranks of those who gave their life in the concentration camps in the name of Christ.”
“I would like to entrust for their intercession, today, the day of Pentecost, the cause of world peace. May the Holy Spirit inspire courageous plans of peace and support the efforts to pursue them, so that dialogue may prevail over weapons and respect for man’s dignity overcome partisan interests. May the Spirit, which is a bond of communion, straighten the hearts deflected by selfishness; may it help the human family rediscover and care for its fundamental unity.”