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Pope Francis: Church is reconciled community ready for mission

1 June 2020
Pope Francis leads the Regina Caeli from window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking Saint Peter’s Square. Image: Vatican Media/Vatican News.

 

At the Regina Caeli on Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis reflects on the missionary character of the Church.

Pope Francis appeared at the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday for the recitation of the Regina Caeli with the faithful.

Due to health measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holy Father in recent weeks had been leading the Sunday Marian prayers, as well as his weekly General Audiences, from the Library of the Apostolic Palace.

Reconciled and ready for mission

In his reflections on Sunday, Pope Francis noted that the Solemnity of Pentecost commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of the day “takes us back to the evening of Easter,” when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room. The Lord’s greeting, “Peace be with you,” was an expression of reconciliation and forgiveness for the disciples who had abandoned Him in His Passion.

“By forgiving and gathering His disciples around Him,” the Pope said, “Jesus makes them His Church: a community reconciled and ready for mission.”

A view to mission

After that first appearance, and throughout the forty days, Jesus remained with His Disciples, “everything is guided towards strengthening the disciples’ faith – and ours as well – with a view to mission,” Pope Francis said.

It was precisely in order “to inspire mission” that Jesus sent His Holy Spirit, “the fire of love with which the disciples can ‘set the world on fire.’”

The opposite of fear

Pope Francis said that we, in turn, receive the Holy Spirit and His gifts in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Among the gifts is “fear of the Lord,” which the Holy Father explained is “precisely the opposite of the fear that previously paralysed the disciples.”

Instead, fear of the Lord is based on love of God and trust in his mercy and goodness, a trust that allows us to follow His inspirations, knowing that we will never lack “His presence and support.”

An ardent missionary spirit

The feast of Pentecost, the Pope said, “renews the awareness that the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit dwells within us.” He prayed that the Spirit might grant us “the courage to go outside the protective walls of our ‘Upper Rooms,’” and that the Blessed Virgin Mary might obtain for the Church an “ardent missionary spirit.”

Pope prays for poor and vulnerable of Amazonia

In remarks after reciting the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis recalled the conclusion of the Amazon Synod, which was held in October 2019 at the Vatican, he invited the faithful to “invoke the Holy Spirit so that He might give light and strength to the Church and to society in the Amazon region, sorely tried by the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

Health care for everyone

Pope Francis prayed for the “the poorest and those who lack defences” in the Amazon, as well as for others throughout the world. “And I plead that they may not lack health care,” he said. Reflecting off the cuff, the Pope said that saving money by not providing health care is wrong. “Persons are more important than the economy,” he said. “We are temples of the Holy Spirit. The economy is not.”

The witness of those caring for others

The Holy Father then noted the “National Day of Relief” in Italy, which promotes solidarity with the sick. Once again he expressed his appreciation and gratitude for caregivers who “have offered and continue to offer their witness of caring for others.”

Pope Francis then asked everyone to pray in silence to pay tribute to and pray for all those who have given their lives during the COVID-19 crisis: doctors, nurses and all health care personnel.

We need the Holy Spirit

On Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the sending of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis spoke of our need for “the light and strength of the Holy Spirit.” “The Church needs it to walk harmoniously and courageously in the witness of the Gospel,” he said. “And the entire human family needs it so as to move out of this crisis more united and not more divided.”

In bidding farewell, Pope Francis left with his signature words: “Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your meal and arrivederci.” Then he added spontaneously, “in this Square!”

 

Sources:

Vatican News and Christopher Wells – Pope Francis: Church is reconciled community ready for mission

Vatican News and Christopher Wells – Pope at Regina Caeli prays for poor and vulnerable of Amazonia

 

 

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