(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, in St. Peter’s Square.
Before a crowd of scores of thousands of faithful – many of them pilgrims – gathered beneath a bright and nearly cloudless June sky, the Holy Father preached a homily that turned on two actions of the Holy Spirit, discernible in the readings of the day: He makes a new people and He gives each member of that people a new heart.
“[F]irst,” said Pope Francis, “[the Holy Spirit] he rests on each [of the disciples] and then brings all of them together in fellowship,” giving each a gift for the good of the new community He has created. “The same Spirit creates diversity and unity, and in this way forms a new, diverse and unified people: the universal Church.”
The Holy Father went on to indicate two recurrent temptations we must avoid if we are to be a new people and receive the gifts the Spirit disposes for us.
“The first temptation seeks diversity without unity,” he said. “The opposite temptation is that of seeking unity without diversity.”
Pope Francis went on to say, “The prayer we make to the Holy Spirit is for the grace to receive His unity, a glance that, leaving personal preferences aside, embraces and loves His Church, our Church. It is to accept responsibility for unity among all, to wipe out the gossip that sows the darnel of discord and the poison of envy, since to be men and women of the Church means being men and women of communion. It is also to ask for a heart that feels that the Church is our Mother and our home, an open and welcoming home where the manifold joy of the Holy Spirit is shared.”
The second new thing brought by the Spirit, a new heart, is given to the disciples and to us for the forgiveness of sins.
“Jesus does not condemn [the disciples] for having denied and abandoned Him during His passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness. The Spirit is the first gift of the Risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said.
“[F]orgiveness is gift to the highest degree: it is the greatest love of all. It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens. Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.”