.- Pentecost reminds us as Christians of the universality and unity of the Church, Pope Benedict said during Mass on Sunday. The Church, he stated, must always be Catholic and universal, âthe home of all in which each person can find himself again.â
The Holy Father presided over Mass at St. Peterâs Basilica on Sunday, concelebrating with 30 cardinals and 50 bishops and archbishops, to the accompaniment of Sistine Chapel Choir.
Pentecost, said Pope Benedict during his homily, invites us as a Church to make the invocation âCome Holy Spirit!â with particular intensity, calling for âthe gift that Jesus asked and continually asks of the Father for his friends.â
It is âthe first and principal gift that he obtained for us with his Resurrection and Ascension to Heaven,â the Pope explained.
âFrom the Son of God dead, risen and returned to the Father now blows over humankind, with unparalleled energy, the divine breath, the Holy Spirit.â
The Holy Father went on to describe the effects of this ânew and powerful self-communication of Godâ in the world.
Where there is distress and detachment, the Holy Spirit creates unity and comprehension in the world, reunifying the human family in its divisions, and opening those in competition to communion, thus making of them âa new organism, a new subject: the Church.â
âThis, in effect, is the work of God: unity; therefore unity is the sign of recognition, the âbusiness cardâ of the Church in the course of its universal history,â the Pope said.
In this âcriteria of unity and universality,â observed the Holy Father, the Universal Church, one and Catholic, rises over all others, which âmust always conform themselves to itâ and âharmonize themselves with it.â
It is never a âprisonerâ to political, racial and cultural limitations, he continued, and should not be confused with state or federal unions, because âits unity is of a different type and aspires to cross all human borders.â
Wrapping up his reflection on unity and universality in the Church, Pope Benedict emphasized that âAlways and in every place the Church must be truly Catholic and universal, the home of all in which each person can find himself again.â
In his extensive homily, the Holy Father also spoke eloquently of the difference between the fire of God, the Spirit, which doesn't destroy but illuminates the way for humanity, and the fire of war and bombs, "lit by dictators of every age ... who leave the land burned behind them."
The Holy Spirit, he said, is "a flame that burns but doesn't destroy."