The faithful returned to St. Peter’s Square to pray with the Pope after the lockdown. Speaking of Pentecost, the Pope recalled that with his forgiveness Jesus makes the nascent Church “a community reconciled and ready for mission”. And in the end he repeats: the coronavirus crisis calls for the courage “to be better than before” to “build positively the post-crisis pandemic”
At Regina Coeli, the Pope recalled that the feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
“He also gives us the courage to come out of the protective walls of our” cenacles “, small groups without resting in the quiet life or locking ourselves in sterile habits. Let us now raise our thoughts to Mary Most Holy, she was there with the Apostles when the Holy Spirit came, protagonist with the first community of the admirable experience of Pentecost, and we pray that she will obtain the ardent missionary spirit for the Church “.
Many the faithful who gathered in San Pietro to attend the Pope’s prayer, recited today from his private study. And Francesco, turning to them, said: “Today that the square is open we can go back, it’s a pleasure“. Law enforcement agencies ensured safe access, also taking care that people respected interpersonal distance. We recall that on March 8 the Pope, adjusting to the anti-gathering rules for the coronavirus pandemic, had moved inside the Library of the Apostolic Palace for the recitation of the Angelus.
The apostles turned into courageous witnesses
In his reflection, the Pope highlighted that “today’s Gospel (cf. Jn 20,19-23) brings us back to Easter evening and shows us the risen Jesus who appears in the Upper Room, where the disciples took refuge. “He stood in the middle and said to them:” Peace be with you! “” (V. 19). These first words pronounced by the Risen Lord: “Peace be with you”, are to be considered more than a greeting: they express forgiveness, the forgiveness accorded to the disciples who, to tell the truth, had abandoned him. They are words of reconciliation and forgiveness. And we too, when we wish peace to others, are giving forgiveness and also asking for forgiveness ”.
“By forgiving and gathering the disciples around him, Jesus makes them a Church, his Church: which is a community reconciled and ready for mission. Reconciled and ready for the mission. When a community is not reconciled, it is not ready for the mission: it is ready to discuss within itself, it is ready to [discussioni] internal. The encounter with the risen Lord turns the existence of the Apostles upside down and transforms them into courageous witnesses “.
And this is because “Jesus forgives: he always forgives, and offers his peace to his friends – the Pope stressed – Do not forget: Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness “
The Holy Spirit creates new men and women
So the Pope stressed “that just to animate the mission, Jesus gives the Apostles his Spirit: “He blew on them and said:” Receive the Holy Spirit “” (v. 22). The Holy Spirit is fire that burns sins and creates new men and women; it is a fire of love with which the disciples will be able to ‘burn’ the world, that love of tenderness which favors the little ones, the poor, the excluded … In the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we received the Holy Spirit with his gifts: wisdom , intellect, advice, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. This last gift – the fear of God – is just the opposite of the fear that paralyzed the disciples before: it is love for the Lord, it is the certainty of his mercy and his goodness, is the confidence to be able to move in the direction indicated by him, without ever missing his presence and his support “.
Gratitude for those who supported the sick
After the prayer, Francesco recalled that “Today in Italy the National Day of Relief is celebrated, to promote solidarity with the sick. I renew my appreciation to those who, especially in this period, have offered and offer their testimony of care for the next. I remember with gratitude and admiration all those who have given their lives by supporting the patients in this pandemic. We pray in silence for the doctors, the volunteers, the nurses, all the health workers and many who have donated their life in this period “.
Building positively the post-crisis pandemic
The Pope then underlined that “we need the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit so much! The Church needs it, to walk in harmony and courageously witnessing to the Gospel. And the whole human family needs it, to get out of this crisis more united and no longer divided. You know that from a crisis like this one does not go out the same, as before; we go out or better or worse. That we have the courage to change, to be better, to be better than before and to be able to build positively the post-pandemic crisis “.