“All this suffering will be of no use if we don’t build a more just and fair and more Christian society, together”, Pope Francis has implored on COVID-19.
– Video message to CHARIS for Pentecost: “Today we need the Spirit more than ever”
The Pope’s appeal was contained in a video message he sent to CHARIS, the service created by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life in 2018 to foster unity and communication between the different Catholic charismatic groups.
In his video, the pontiff noted that the Holy Spirit, promised to us by Jesus, “comes to renew, to convert, to heal each one of us”.
The Spirit “comes to heal our wounds”, continued the Pope, including the wounds we inflict on each other.
“He comes to transform us” into courageous “missionary disciples” in order to preach the Gospel of Jesus, he said.
Today we need the Holy Spirit “more than ever”, continued the Pope. We live in a suffering world, he explained, one that is “severely wounded”. This suffering is felt especially by the poorest of our society. “Now that all our human security has vanished”, the world needs Jesus, made present through our witness, said the Pope.
Francis continued by saying that in order to bear witness “we need the power of the Holy Spirit” to open minds and hearts to the lessons we have learned through this pandemic. That lesson, he said, is that we are one people, and alone we cannot save ourselves.
Pope Francis warned, however, that when we come out of this pandemic we will not be able to pick things up where we left them, as we left them, because “everything will be different”.
If we do not work to put an end to the pandemic of poverty in the world, in each of our countries, in each of our cities, “this time will have been in vain”, he said.
None of us can emerge from the great trials facing humanity – one of which is the current pandemic – the same as we were before. “We come out of them either better or worse”, said the Pope. He then asked: “Do you want to come out of it better or worse?”.
Pope Francis said it is for this reason that we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit today – “so that He may change our hearts and help us to come out of this better”.
– Video message to ‘Thy Kingdom Come’: “At Pentecost God ‘infected’ the world with life”
Also for Pentecost, meanwhile, the Pope sent another video message, this time to a liturgical service marking the feast that was celebrated by Anglican Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby and the global ecumenical prayer movement ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
“At Pentecost God ‘infected’ the world with life. How different this is from the contagion of death that has ravaged the earth for months now!”, the pontiff observed in his message to ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, also insisting with respect to the COVID-19 recovery “if there is to be a better future, our hearts must change for the better”.
What place do Christians have in the reconstruction phase after the worst of the virus? The Pope was clear: “We must give in turn the gift that we have received: we are called to share the comfort of the Spirit, the closeness of God”.
“Everything we would like others to do for us, let us do for them instead”, Francis continued, setting out in detail the Christian calling post-pandemic:
“Do we want to be heard? Let us first listen. Do we need encouragement? Let us give encouragement. Do we want someone to care for us? Let us care for those who are alone and abandoned. Do we need hope for tomorrow? Let us give hope today.
“Today our world is experiencing a tragic famine of hope. How much pain is all around us, how much emptiness, how much inconsolable grief! Let us, then, become messengers of the comfort bestowed by the Spirit. Let us radiate hope, and the Lord will open new paths as we journey towards the future”.
In these days in which the world is beginning to look past the worst of COVID-19 suffering, Francis continued, it is also especially important that Christians pray for their political leaders, “that they may defend human life and the dignity of work”.
“For this is what must be invested in: health, employment, and the elimination of inequalities and poverty”, the Pope affirmed, adding that “now as never before we need a vision rich in humanity: we cannot start up again by going back to our selfish pursuit of success without caring about those who are left behind. And even if many are doing precisely that, the Lord is asking us to change course”.
Conversion is the call, the Pope pleaded: to “go back, turn back to God and our neighbour: no longer isolated and anaesthetised before the cry of the poor and the devastation of our planet”.
“We need to be united in facing all those pandemics that are spreading, that of the virus, but also those of hunger, war, contempt for life, and indifference to others. Only by walking together will we be able to go far”, the Pope told members of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
– At Mass: a warning to Catholics against “narcissism, victimhood and pessimism”
The Pope didn’t just have words at Pentecost on the COVID-19 social and economic recovery, however; in his homily at Mass on the feast of the Church’s ‘birthday’, he reminded Catholics that “we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit”.
In the Church today we Catholics have our differences “of opinions, choices, sensibilities”, the Pope recognised, in the face of which “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”.
But “this is a bad temptation that brings division”, the Pope warned, adding that a faith that leads to divisions “is a faith created in our own image; it is not what the Spirit wants”.
“The Spirit comes to us, in our differences and difficulties, to tell us that we have one Lord – Jesus – and one Father, and that for this reason we are brothers and sisters!”, Francis highlighted, inviting Catholics to “begin anew from here”, to “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, with one ideology or the other; the Spirit sees us as sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus”, the Pope explained.
He also offered a message to non-believers: “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”.
But the bulk of the Pope’s sermon was devoted today to warning the Church against cultivating the memory of Jesus “in small groups locked in upper rooms where it is easy to ‘nest'”.
“This is a terrible disease that can also infect the Church: making her into a nest instead of a community, a family or a Mother”, Francis cautioned, recalling that “the Spirit himself 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 organisation and a clear strategy, things fall apart. In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message”, the Pope explained.
One final piece of encouragement to the Church contained in the pontiff’s homily today was to flee from the “three main enemies of the gift, always lurking at the door of our hearts: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism”.
In the temptations to selfishness, complaint and negativity, the Pope said, “we experience a famine of hope and we need to appreciate the gift of life, the gift that each of us is”, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
– At the Regina Caeli: Church and world “have such need of the strength of the Spirit!”
The Pope’s final appointment Sunday was the first Regina Caeli prayer in months with faithful in St. Peter’s Square, which occasion Francis celebrated as a “pleasure”.
“The Feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that within us dwells the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit”, the pontiff highlighted in his catechesis, praying that the Spirit may grant the Church “the courage to go outside the protective walls of our ‘Upper Rooms’, our little groups, without getting used to a quiet life or closing ourselves up in sterile habits”.
In his greeting after the recital of the Marian prayer today, the Pope said that even though the Synod for the Amazon came to an end seven months ago, the Church must still carry that region and its people in its heart, particularly in the context of the pandemic.
Many Amazon indigenous “have been infected and have died” of COVID-19, the Pope denounced, pleading that the remaining vulnerable in the region may not be deprived of healthcare.
Praising the the National Day of Relief initiative in Italy today to promote solidarity towards the sick, the Pope concluded by observing that in these times “we have such need of the light and strength of the Holy Spirit!”
“The Church needs it to walk harmoniously and courageously in the witness of the Gospel. And the entire human family needs it so as to move out of this crisis more united and not more divided”, Francis affirmed.
(With reporting by Vatican News)