06/03/2006, 00.00
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Pope: life, freedom and unity, gifts of the Spirit and rallying cries for movements

A joyous crowd of 400,000 people attended a meeting with Benedict XVI. The Pope called all to mission and recommended defence of life and of creation.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – True life, freedom and unity, which bring mission, defence of the weak, of justice and of nature: these are gifts of the Spirit and what springs from them: Benedict XVI evoked them and recommended them to movements and new ecclesial communities. The vespers of the vigil of Pentecost saw around 400,000 members of ecclesial movements from around the world in St Peter's Square: there were psalms, hymns and meditations, but also joy, shouting and arms raised to heaven, scarves, hats and flags waving. Benedict XVI, who desired to have this second global meeting after the "foundation" one on 30 May 1998 with John Paul II, passed not only through St Peter's Square, but also through Via Conciliazione in an open vehicle; everywhere was packed with youth, families and children. Few people probably noticed, but for the first time, the pope was not flanked by Camillo Cibin, the mythical head of Vatican Security, the commendatore, the white-haired man whose image besides four popes had become a common sight. He retired today, aged 80.

On the vigil of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and his actions were at the heart of reflections of representatives of the movements of the Focolare, of St Egidio, of Neocatechumens, of Communion and Liberation. Their reflections before the pope's speech were interspersed with psalms. All recalled John Paul II, as Benedict XVI also did; he repeated the invitation to "open the doors to Christ", with which the former pope launched his long pontificate.

But "who or what is the Holy Spirit? How can we recognize him? In what way do we approach Him and how does He approach us? What are his works?" asked Benedict XVI, who developed his meditation along these themes.

Here, then, is the Spirit creator: "The world does not exist of itself; it comes from the creative spirit of God, from the creative Word of God. And thus it reflects also the wisdom of God." And so "we cannot use and abuse the world and of matter as simple material of our making and volition; we must consider creation to be a gift entrusted to us, not for destructive ends, but that it may become the garden of God and thus a garden of man. In the face of multiple forms of abuse of the earth that we witness today, let us listen to the wailing of creation mentioned by St Paul". A "first answer", then, to the question about what the Holy Spirit is, how he functions, and how we can recognize him, is "He comes to meet us through creation. However, the good creation of God, throughout the history of mankind, was covered by a massive layer of dirt that makes it, if not impossible, certainly difficult to recognize the reflection of the Creator in it – although when seeing the sun setting into the sea, during an excursion to the mountains, or seeing a flower that has blossomed, the awareness of the existence of the Creator is reawakened in us almost spontaneously."

In Pentecost, then, "Jesus, and through Him God Himself, comes to us and draws us behind him. 'He sends his Holy Spirit' – this is what the Scripture says. What is the effect?" Benedict XVI highlighted two aspects: "The Holy Spirit, through which God comes to us, brings us life and freedom". Already in the parable of the prodigal son, said the pope, there are the themes of life and freedom. The prodigal son "wants life and what he wants is to be completely free. Being free means, from this perspective, being able to do exactly as one pleases, not having to accept any criteria other than and above myself. Following only my desires and my will. Who lives thus will soon meet another who wants to live in the same way. The obvious consequence of this egotistical concept of freedom is violence, mutual destruction of freedom and life." "When one wants only to take control of life, one makes it ever more empty, poorer, easily ending up by taking refuge in drugs, in big illusions. And then the doubt emerges whether to live, at the end of the day, is really any good. No, in this way, we will not find life." "Life is found through giving it; it is not found in desiring to possess it. And this is what we must learn from Christ and this is what the Holy Spirit teaches us, who is also a gift, that is, the self-giving of God. The more one gives his life for others, for good itself, the more abundantly will the river of life flow."

"In this world, so full of fictitious freedoms that destroy the environment and man, let us, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, learn true freedom together; to build schools of freedom; to show others with our life that we are free and how beautiful it is to be really free with the true freedom of children of God." And "the principle always holds: freedom and responsibility go together. True freedom is revealed in responsibility, in a way of acting that takes upon itself co-responsibility for the world, for oneself and for others." "The son who is free is he who owns something and who thus does not allow it to be destroyed. All mundane responsibilities that we have talked about are however partial responsibilities, for a fixed time and state, and so on. The Holy Spirit, however, makes us sons and daughters of God. He involves us in the responsibility that God himself has for this world, for all mankind. We do good not as slaves who are not free to do otherwise, we do it because we personally bear responsibility for the whole, because we love truth and good, because we love God himself and therefore also his creatures. And this is true freedom, to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us. Ecclesial movements want and must be schools of freedom, of this true freedom."

"The Holy Spirit, giving life and freedom, gives also unity. They are three gifts that are inseparable one from the other." "In the Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul tells us that this Body of Christ, that is the Church, has ligaments (cfr 4:16) and he names them: they are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (cfr 4:12). If we look at history, if we look at this assembly here in St Peter's Square, we realize how He always draws out new gifts. We see how different the organs He creates are, and how, always anew, He works as a body. But in Him, multiplicity and unity go together. He blows where he wants. He does so in an unexpected way, in unexpected places and in ways previously unimagined. And he does it in many forms and as one body! And it is precisely here that multiplicity and unity are inseparable one from the other. He wants our diversity and he wants us to be one body, in union with lasting orders – the ligaments – of the Church, with the successors of the Apostles and with the successor of St Peter. He does not absolve us from the task of learning to relate one with the other; but he shows us also that He works in the perspective of one body in the unity of one body. And it is only thus that unity gains its strength and its beauty. Taking part in the edification of the one body! Pastors will be careful not to snuff out the Spirit (cfr 1 Ts 5:19) and you should not cease to bring your gifts to the entire community. Once again: the Holy Spirit blows where he wishes. But his desire is unity. He leads us towards Christ, in his Body."

"The Holy Spirit wants unity, he wants totality. And so his presence is revealed above all in a missionary slant. Whoever has met something real, beautiful and good in his life – the one true treasure, the precious pearl! – rushes to share it with everyone, with his family and at work, in all the environments of his life. He does so without fear, because he knows he has received adoption as a son, without any presumptions, because everything is gift; without discouragement, because the Spirit of God precedes his action in the "heart" of men and as a seed in the most diverse cultures and faiths. He does so without borders, because he is the bearer of good news that is for all mankind, for all peoples."

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