Pope Francis sends message to the global, online ecumenical Pentecost Vigil organized by CHARIS, and reassures Christians that the Holy Spirit can achieve peace and restore love through our daily actions, even in a world wounded by war and hatred.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis on Saturday, the eve of Pentecost, sent a message for the ecumenical Pentecost Vigil organized by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS), through the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The Charis-organized 2022 Vigil was transmitted online first from Burkina Faso, then Australia, and lastly in Lebanon. The Pope’s video message was broadcast during the vigil.
The Holy Father began his message by recalling when Jesus told His Apostles, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you … you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
On the night before Pentecost, the Pope reflected on how we can relate to the apprehension and fear of the Apostles, adding that we too need to overcome that fear.
Holy Spirit transforms lives and history
“One evening like today, those fearful men and women, closed in the upper room of Jerusalem – because they knew they were being persecuted – experienced the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, who transformed their lives forever.”
“Their lives, transformed by the power of the Spirit,” the Pope insisted, “changed history.”
On this night, even if we await the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, He is already here with us.
“Do we await Him because He has not come, because He is not there? No. He was already there at the moment of Creation and in all of us, through the Baptism we have received.”
Each Pentecost, he said, we must remember and experience His continued presence in us, our lives, and our communities.
War, martyrdom and pandemic
He lamented that the world is marked by illness, and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed millions of lives worldwide, bringing with it pain, suffering and isolation.
“In many parts of the world, hunger persists and entire peoples are forced into exile. And war: war between brothers, war among Christians, as in the case, at this time, of the invasion of Ukraine. Other examples of this war throughout the world are the situation in Yemen, the martyrdom of the Rohingya people, and the particular situation of Lebanon, among others… war!”
Despite fear and despair, the Holy Father rejoiced that “tonight arises the luminous presence of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength, courage, and determination to work tirelessly for the peace that only He can give.”
Peace begins in families, and not alone
Peace, the Pope said, begins “in families, in interpersonal and interracial relationships, in relations between Christians and with members of other religions. Peace begins with love for the enemy, for those who do not think like me…”
“We cannot achieve this alone,” the Pope said, adding, “With the Holy Spirit we can.”
Even if hatred seems to have taken over of the world now, the Pope observed, he said that the power of love given to us by God is far greater.
Ask forgiveness, achieve peace ‘bit by bit, one plus one’
This Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit’s help, said the Pope, we must ask for the grace to forgive one another and move forward together.
“This is how peace begins: bit by bit, one plus one.”
Calling for a culture of peace, the Holy Father said, “Heads of State should work for peace, or otherwise, and they will be judged by history.”
In our daily actions, the Holy Father said, each one of us must spread love and vanquish hatred, in order to teach this “to our children and grandchildren” and, in turn, “to change the world.”
Pope Francis concluded by praying that all Christians might “receive the power of the Holy Spirit and bear witness.”