At the conclusion of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis focused his homily at Mass on the significance of the Upper Room, held to be the site of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus' apostles.
“It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist,” said Pope Francis on May 26 in Jerusalem.
“Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples. Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth,” he recalled.
In recognition of the significance of the holy site, Pope Francis celebrated the mass of the Holy Spirit along with the bishops of the Holy Land, noting that the Spirit’s presence is still with the Church today.
“The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning.”
Pope Francis also spoke of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples in the Upper Room at the last supper, offering an example of “welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another.”
He recounted how Jesus celebrated the first Eucharist with his disciples, and continues to be present in the Eucharist throughout the centuries.
“In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering God our lives, our joys, and our sorrows...offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice.”
The Upper Room also offers a reminder of betrayal, the Pope noted, since the traitor Judas had been present with the others there.
Betrayal can happen “whenever we look at our brother and sister with contempt, whenever we judge them, whenever by our sins we betray Jesus,” he cautioned.
Yet the holy site is also a reminder of “sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace.”
“How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room! How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent,” he remarked.
“All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.”
The Pontiff went on to consider how the Church is like a family, “that has a mother, the Virgin Mary.”
“All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons daughters of the one Father in heaven,” he stressed.
Pope Francis concluded his final mass in the Holy Land by praying for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
“Gathered in prayer with the Mother of Jesus, the Church lives in constant expectation of a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and renew the face of the earth!”