This morning Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass of Pentecost at St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke about the ”harmony of gifts” of the Holy Spirit, and emphasized the responsibility of the Church to become an instrument of peace, a theme Pope Benedict has recited often in recent days.
“Only the Holy Spirit, which creates unity in love and mutual acceptance of diversity, can liberate humanity from the constant temptation of a desire for power on earth that wants to dominate everything and make everything more uniform.”
At the feast of Pentecost, Pope Benedict, the Church was founded not by human will, but “by the strength of the Spirit of God."
The Pope recalled that the Jewish feast of Pentecost commemorates the covenant of Sinai when God, through Moses, established the Israelites as his chosen people. “According to the Book of Exodus, this pact was accompanied by a terrifying demonstration of power by the Lord,” Pope Benedict said.
In the Acts of the Apostles, he reminded, “the apostles and community of 120 disciples forms an ‘assembly’ according to the model of the first covenant, a community convened to hear the voice of the Lord and walk in his ways.”
The Holy Spirit, the Pontiff said, defines the community with a “real baptism of fire, and form us into a "new family,” created when the disciples and the holy women, including Mary, the Mother of Jesus, "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. "
“This family is no longer based on ties of blood, but on faith in Christ," he added. This Church, which has “prayer as its main activity, receives its unity from the Lord, and is guided by his will."
Benedict XVI focused on the unity the Spirit brings: a harmony of the various gifts in communion of the same Spirit that allows for diversity in unity. The Pope stressed that the Church born on Pentecost is not a “federation” of churches, but “the universal Church, who speaks the languages of all peoples":
"It then bore fruit in other communities in every part of the world all the Churches are always an implementation of the one and only Church of Christ. The Catholic Church is therefore not a federation of Churches, but a single reality.”
The Pope explained the providential plan that leads from Jerusalem to Rome:
"Rome represents the whole world and therefore embodies the idea of Catholicism. St. Luke realized the Catholic Church was the universal Church, the continuation of the people and the election makes it own the history and mission [of Israel].”
The fact that Jesus uttered the word “Shalom” twice to the disciples after the Resurrection, points to the responsibility of the Church to be “a sign and instrument of God's peace for all peoples.” “Shalom” is “much more than a greeting; it is the gift of the peace of the promise,” Pope Benedict said.
I tried to convey this message myself when I went to the headquarters of the UN and offered my words to the representatives of the people, he pointed out.
Yet the Pope added that is not just large events that we must think of, but also of the presence and actions of the Church.
“The gift of peace and the Spirit are at the heart of the sacrament of reconciliation. How important and unfortunately not sufficiently understood is the gift of Reconciliation, which recreates hearts!”
“The peace of Christ spreads only through renewed hearts of men and women reconciled and made slaves of justice, ready to spread worldwide peace with the sole power of truth, without compromising it with the mentality of the world because the world can not give the peace of Christ: here's how the Church can be leaven of the reconciliation that comes from God. It may be only if it remains obedient to the Spirit and bears witness to the Gospel, only if it carries the Cross and Jesus. That is witness of the saints of every age!”