On Sunday, 5 June, after reciting the Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope appealed for peace in Ukraine and in Yemen. “Let the desperate cry of the suffering people be heard”, he urged. Earlier, he had reflected on the Gospel passage of John on Pentecost, explaining that “the Holy Spirit does not fear the passing of the centuries” but “makes believers attentive to the problems and events of their time”. The following is a translation of the Pontiff’s words.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Buongiorno, happy Sunday!
And today, happy feast day too, because today we are celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost. We celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, which took place 50 days after Easter. Jesus had promised it several times. In today’s Liturgy, the Gospel recounts one of these promises, when Jesus said to the disciples: “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14: 26). This is what the Spirit does: he teaches and reminds us of what Christ said. Let us reflect on these two actions, to teach and to remind, because this is how he makes the Gospel of Jesus enter into our hearts.
First of all, the Holy Spirit teaches. In this way he helps us overcome an obstacle that presents itself to us in the experience of faith: that of distance. He helps us overcome the obstacle of distance in the experience of faith. Indeed, the doubt may arise that between the Gospel and everyday life there is a great distance: Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. They were other times, other situations, and therefore the Gospel seems to be outdated, it seems inadequate to speak to our current moment, with its demands and its problems. The question also comes to us: what does the Gospel have to say in the age of the internet, in the age of globalization? What impact can its word have?
We can say that the Holy Spirit is a specialist in bridging distances, he knows how to bridge distances; he teaches us how to overcome them. It is he who connects the teaching of Jesus with every time and every person. With him Christ’s words are not a memory, no: Christ’s words, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, come alive today! The Spirit makes them alive for us: through Sacred Scriptures he speaks to us and guides us in the present. The Holy Spirit does not fear the passing of the centuries; rather, he makes believers attentive to the problems and events of their time. Indeed, when the Holy Spirit teaches, he updates: he keeps faith ever young. We run the risk of making a museum piece out of faith: it is a risk! He, on the other hand, brings it up to date, always up to date, the faith up to date: this is his job. For the Holy Spirit does not bind himself to passing epochs or trends, but brings into today the relevance of Jesus, risen and living.
And how does the Spirit do this? By reminding us. Here is the second verb, to remind. What does remind mean? To remind means to restore to the heart [Lat.: re-cordari from cordis meaning heart]. The Spirit restores the Gospel to our heart. It happens as it did for the Apostles: they had listened to Jesus many times, yet they had understood little. The same thing happens to us. But from Pentecost forth, with the Holy Spirit, they remember and they understand. They welcome his words as made especially for them, and they go from an outward knowledge, an awareness of memory, to a living relationship, a convinced, joyful relationship with the Lord. It is the Spirit who does this, who moves from “hearsay” to personal knowledge of Jesus, who enters the heart. Thus, the Spirit changes our lives: he makes Jesus’ thoughts become our thoughts. And he does this by reminding us of his words, bringing Jesus’ words to our heart, today.
Brothers and sisters, without the Spirit reminding us of Jesus, faith becomes forgetful. Very often, faith becomes a recollection without memory; instead, memory is living and living memory is brought by the Spirit. And we — let us try to ask ourselves — are we forgetful Christians? Maybe all it takes is a setback, a struggle, a crisis to forget Jesus’ love and fall into doubt and fear? Woe to us, should we become forgetful Christians! The remedy is to invoke the Holy Spirit. Let us do this often, especially in important moments, before difficult decisions and in difficult situations. Let us take the Gospel in our hands and invoke the Spirit. We can say, “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. This is a beautiful prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. Shall we say it together? “Come, Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart”. Then, let us open the Gospel and read a small passage slowly. And the Spirit will make it speak to our lives.
May the Virgin Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit, kindle in us the desire to pray to him and receive the Word of God.
After the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father continued:
Dear brothers and sisters, on Pentecost, God’s dream for humanity becomes reality; fifty days after Easter, peoples who speak different languages encounter and understand one another. But now, 100 days since the beginning of the armed aggression against Ukraine, the nightmare of war, which is the negation of God’s dream, has once again befallen humanity: peoples who lock horns, peoples who kill each other, people being driven from their homes instead of being brought closer. And while the fury of destruction and death rampages and the conflicts rage on, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of Nations: do not lead humanity in ruin, please! Do not lead humanity in ruin, please! Let true negotiations take place, real talks for a ceasefire and for a sustainable solution. Let the desperate cry of the suffering people be heard — we see this every day in the media — have respect for human life and stop the macabre destruction of cities and villages in the east of Ukraine. Let us continue, please, to pray and to strive tirelessly for peace.
Yesterday in Beirut, two Friars Minor Capuchin were beatified: Léonard Melki and Thomas George Saleh, priests and martyrs, killed in hatred of the faith in Turkey in 1915 and 1917 respectively. These two Lebanese missionaries, in a hostile context, proved their unshakeable trust in God and their self-sacrifice for their neighbour. May their example strengthen our Christian witness. They were young — they were not even 35 years old. A round of applause for the new Blesseds!
I welcome the news of a two-month extension of the truce in Yemen. Thanks be to God, and to you. I hope that this sign of hope may be a further step to put an end to that bloody conflict, which has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises of our times. Please, let us not forget to spare a thought for the children of Yemen: hunger, destruction, lack of education, lack of everything. Let us think of the children!
I would like to assure you of my prayers for the victims of the landslides caused by torrential rains in the metropolitan region of Recife, Brazil.
I greet you all, people of Rome and pilgrims! I greet the “Advocacy in Mission” Association; the members of the International Reconciliation Movement and the Nonviolent Movement; the French “Saint Louis” scout group, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Evangelii Gaudium fraternity. I greet the faithful of Piacenza d’Adige, the Choir of Castelfidardo, the young people of Pollone and those of Cassina de’ Pecchi — I remember when I visited these places many years ago —, the pilgrims from the Antonian Sanctuaries of Camposampiero and the cyclists of Sarcedo, and I also greet the young people of the Immacolata.
I express my closeness to fishers: let us think of fishers who, due to the increase in the cost of petrol, risk having to cease their work, and I extend this to all the categories of workers gravely afflicted by the consequences of the conflict in Ukraine.
I pray for you; pray for me. I wish you all a happy Sunday. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!