Pope says Holy Spirit rebuilds bridge between earth and heaven

Pope Benedict says missionary success depends not on careful planning but on the initiative of the Holy Spirit, whose presence unites and transforms confusion into communion.

Catholic News Agency reports that the Mass, concelebrated by several Cardinals, was attended by tens of thousands of people, many of whom had participated in yesterday's meeting between the Pope and ecclesial movements and new communities.

"On the day of Pentecost," said the Pope in his homily, "the Holy Spirit descended powerfully upon the Apostles; and thus the Church's mission in the world began."

"Jesus Himself had prepared the Eleven for this mission, appearing to them a number of times after His resurrection. ... Remaining together was the condition placed by Jesus for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit."

"This provides a remarkable lesson for all Christian communities," the Pope added. "Sometimes, it is thought that missionary success depends principally on careful planning, followed by clever implementation through concrete commitment. Of course, the Lord asks our collaboration, but prior to any response on our part His initiative is necessary. His Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church."

Benedict XVI commented on the images of wind and fire with which St Luke describes "the irruption of the Holy Spirit." Images that recall the covenant of God with the People of Israel in the Sinai Desert and through which the Evangelist presents "Pentecost as the new Sinai, as the feast of the new pact, in which the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the people of the earth."

For this reason, "the Church was Catholic and missionary from her inception. The universality of salvation is significantly highlighted in the list of ethnic groups who listened to the first announcement of the Apostles."

"The People of God ... was enlarged ... until it no longer knew frontiers of race, culture, space or time. Unlike what happened in the Tower of Babel - when men, intent on building a way to heaven with their own hands, ended up by destroying their capacity to understand one another - in the Pentecost the Spirit, with the gift of tongues, shows how His presence unites and transforms confusion into communion. ... The Holy Spirit ... rebuilds the bridge of true communication between earth and heaven."

Pope: Holy Spirit rebuilds bridge between earth and heaven (Catholic News Agency 5/6/06)

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6 Jun 2006