HOLY SPIRIT IS LOVE
On the Pentecost Mass at St. Peter's Sqaure, Pope
Benedict XVI focused his address on the holy spirit which is love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended
with power on the apostles; thus began the mission of the Church
in the world. Jesus himself had prepared the Eleven for this mission
by appearing to them on several occasions after his resurrection
(cf. Acts 1:3).
Before the ascension to heaven, "he charged
them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the
Father" (cf. Acts 1:4-5); that is, he asked them to stay together
to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And
they gathered in prayer with Mary in the Cenacle, while awaiting
this promised event (cf. Acts 1:14).
To stay together was the condition Jesus placed
to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; the premise of their harmony
was prolonged prayer. In this way we are offered a formidable lesson
for every Christian community.
At times it is thought that missionary effectiveness
depends primarily on careful programming and its subsequent intelligent
application through a concrete commitment. The Lord certainly does
ask us for our collaboration, but before any other response his
initiative is necessary: His Spirit is the true protagonist of the
Church. The roots of our being and of our action are in the wise
and provident silence of
The images used by St. Luke to indicate the irruption
of the Holy Spirit -- wind and fire -- recall the Sinai, where God
revealed himself to the people of Israel and offered his covenant
(cf. Exodus 19:3 and following). The feast of Sinai, which Israel
celebrated 50 days after the Passover, was the feast of the Covenant.
On speaking of the tongues of fire (cf. Acts 3),
St. Luke wants to represent Pentecost as a new Sinai, as the feast
of the new Covenant, in which the Covenant with Israel is extended
to all the nations of the earth. The Church has been catholic and
missionary from her birth. The universality of salvation is manifested
with the list of the numerous ethnic groups to which those belonged
who heard the apostles' first proclamation (cf. Acts 2:9-11).
The People of God, which had found its first configuration
in Sinai, extends today to the point of surmounting every barrier
of race, culture, space and time. As opposed to what occurred with
the tower of Babel, when people wanted to build a way to heaven
with their hands, they ended up by destroying their very capacity
to understand one another mutually. The Pentecost of the Spirit,
with the gift of tongues, shows that his presence unites and transforms
confusion into communion. Man's pride and egoism always creates
divisions, builds walls of indifference, hatred and violence.
The Holy Spirit, on the contrary, makes hearts capable
of understanding everyone's languages, as it re-establishes the
bridge of authentic communication between earth and heaven. The
Holy Spirit is love.
But, how is it possible to enter into the mystery
of the Holy Spirit? How can the secret of love be understood? The
Gospel passage takes us today to the Cenacle, where, the Last Supper
being over, an experience of disconcert saddened the apostles. The
reason was that Jesus' words aroused disturbing questions: He spoke
of the world's hatred of him and of his own, he spoke of his mysterious
departure; much remained to be said but at that moment the apostles
were not able to bear the weight (cf. John 16:12).
To console them, he explained the meaning of his
departure: He would go, but he would return; meanwhile, he would
not abandon them, would not leave them orphans. He would send the
Consoler, the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit would enable
them to know that Christ's work is a work of love: love of him who
gave himself, love of the Father who has given him.
This is the mystery of Pentecost: The Holy Spirit
illuminates the human spirit and, on revealing Christ crucified
and risen, indicates the way to become more like him, that is, to
be "expression and instrument of love that comes from him"
("Deus Caritas Est," No. 33). The Church, gathered with
Mary, as at her birth, today implores: "Veni Sancte Spiritus!"
-- "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful and
enkindle in them the fire of thy love!" Amen.