Pope Francis on Saturday, the eve of Pentecost, sent a message for the ecumenical Pentecost Vigil organized by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS), through the Commission for Christian Unity.
The mass was broadcast during the vigil from the Anglican Christ Church in Jerusalem, where the faithful from different Christian traditions were gathered.
Opening his message, the Pope expressed gratitude to the Anglican Church for its hospitality in making the broadcast possible, and in particular, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, for sharing “a beautiful reflection on the Holy Spirit.”
The Pope also acknowledged CHARIS for organizing the vigil as part of the mission he had entrusted to it to work for Christian unity, through its commission made up of Catholics and other believers from other Christian communities.
Significance of the occasion
Highlighting the significance of the “very special night”, Pope Francis reflected on Jerusalem – “the holy city for the children of Abraham”; and the upper room where the Holy Spirit, promised by Our Lord, descended “powerfully on Mary and the disciples, transforming their lives and the whole of history forever.”
“I am thinking of the Church of Saint James, the Mother Church, the first, the Church of believers in Jesus, the Messiah, all of them Jews,” the Pope said, adding that the Church has never disappeared from history and is still alive today.
The Pope also turned his thoughts to the following morning, when, in Jerusalem, “devout Jews from all nations, were ‘filled with wonder’ when they heard those Galileans speaking in their languages,” according to the account in the Acts of the Apostles.
See how they love each other
Continuing his reflection on the community of believers, Pope Francis recalled that no one was in need because they held everything in common, and the people said of them: “See how they love each other.” “Brotherly love defines them.
And the presence of the Spirit makes them comprehensible,” Pope Francis pointed out. Conversely, he lamented the sadness of when people say of Christians, “Look how they quarrel.”
“Can the world today say of Christians, ‘Look how they love each other’, or can it truthfully say ‘Look how they hate each other’ or ‘Look how they quarrel’? What has happened to us?” he asked.
The need for forgiveness
The Pope went on to impress upon everyone the need to ask forgiveness from God, as well as the need to forgive ourselves.
“We have sinned against God and against our brothers,” the Pope said. “We are divided; we have broken into a thousand pieces what God so lovingly, passionately and tenderly made.”
At the same time, the Pope pointed at “the plague” which he describes as “the effect not only of a virus, but also of the selfishness and greed that make the poor poorer and the rich richer.”
He also warned that “nature is reaching the limit of its possibilities as a result of humanity’s predatory action,” saying this is the same humanity “to whom God entrusted the care and fruitfulness of the earth.”
“If Christian unity in mutual love has always been necessary, today it is more urgent than ever,” he insisted.
A call to Christian witness
“Brothers and sisters, this night can be a prophecy; it can be the beginning of the witness that we Christians, together, must give to the world,” the Pope said.
We are thus, “to be witnesses of God’s love that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” so that “tonight thousands of Christians will raise the same prayer together, from the corners of the earth: come Holy Spirit, come Spirit of Love, and change the face of the earth, and change my heart.”
Pope Francis then urged everyone to “go out into the world and make reality and a testimony of the first Christian community: “See how they love each other.”
Changed to change the world
“Let us be changed by the Holy Spirit so that we can change the world. God is faithful, He never reneges on His promise,” he said.
Counting on God’s faithfulness, Pope Francis ended his message recalling the prophecy of Isaiah in the Bible: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many people shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths”. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and shall decide for many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:2-4).