POPE FRANCIS ON THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER C
POPE FRANCIS ON THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER C
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 22 May 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, happy Sunday!
In the Gospel of today’s Liturgy, bidding his disciples goodbye during the Last Supper, Jesus says almost as a sort of testament: “Peace I leave with you”. And he adds immediately, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). Let us reflect on these short phrases.
First of all, peace I leave with you. Jesus bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene. Judas has left to betray him, Peter is about to deny him, and almost everyone else to abandon him. The Lord knows this, and yet, he does not rebuke, he does not use severe words, he does not give harsh speeches. Rather than demonstrate agitation, he remains kind till the end. There is a proverb that says you die the way you have lived. In effect, the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace, a peace that comes from his meek heart accustomed to trust. This is the source of the peace Jesus gives us. For no one can leave others peace if they do not have it within themselves. No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.
Peace I leave with you: Jesus demonstrates that meekness is possible. He incarnated it specifically in the most difficult moment, and he wants us to behave that way too, since we too are heirs of his peace. He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons. The witness of peace. As disciples of Jesus, let us ask ourselves if we behave like this where we live – do we ease tensions, and defuse conflicts? Are we too at odds with someone, always ready to react, explode, or do we know how to respond nonviolently, do we know how to respond with peaceful actions? How do I react? Everyone can ask themselves this.
Certainly, this meekness is not easy. How difficult it is, at every level, to defuse conflicts! Jesus’ second phrase comes to our aid here: my peace I give you. Jesus knows that on our own we are not able to cultivate peace, that we need help, that we need a gift. Peace, which is our obligation, is first of all a gift of God. In fact, Jesus says: “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you” (v. 27). What is this peace that the world does not know and the Lord gives us? This peace is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit of Jesus. It is the presence of God in us, it is God’s “power of peace”. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who loosens rigidity and extinguishes the temptations to attack others. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out anew because we cannot do this with our own strength. And it is with Him, with the Holy Spirit, that we become men and women of peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace. The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace. Let us learn to say every day: “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. This is a beautiful prayer. Shall we say it together? “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. I didn’t hear it well. One more time: “Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit”. And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.
May Our Lady help us welcome the Holy Spirit so we can be peacemakers.
Saint Peter’s Square
6th Sunday of Easter C, 26 May 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
The Gospel reading for this Sixth Sunday of Easter presents a passage of the discourse that Jesus addressed to the Apostles at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 14:23-29). He speaks about the work of the Holy Spirit and makes a promise: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (v. 26). As the moment of the Cross approaches, Jesus reassures the Apostles that they will not be alone: the Holy Spirit will always be with them, the Paraclete, who will support them in the mission to deliver the Gospel throughout the world. In the original Greek language, the term “Paraclete” means the One who positions himself alongside, to support and comfort. Jesus returns to the Father, but continues to teach and inspire his disciples through the action of the Holy Spirit.
In what does the Holy Spirit’s mission, which Jesus promises as a gift, consist? He describes it himself: “he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus already passed on all that he wanted to entrust to the Apostles: he fulfilled divine Revelation, namely, all that the Father wanted to impart to mankind with the incarnation of the Son. The Holy Spirit’s task is to remind, that is, to enable full understanding and to induce us to concretely implement Jesus’ teachings. And this is also precisely the mission of the Church, which she accomplishes through a precise way of life, characterized by a few requirements: faith in the Lord and observance of his Word; docility to the action of the Holy Spirit, who constantly renders the Risen Lord alive and present; acceptance of his peace and the witness borne to it through an attitude of openness and of encounter with the other.
To accomplish all of this the Church cannot remain static but, with the active participation of each baptized person, she is called to act as a community on a journey, enlivened and sustained by the light and power of the Holy Spirit who makes all things new. It is a matter of freeing oneself from worldly bonds represented by our views, our strategies, our objectives that often burden the journey of faith, and to place ourselves in docile listening to the Word of the Lord. Thus it is God’s Spirit who guides us and guides the Church, so that her authentic, beautiful and luminous face may shine, as Christ wished.
Today the Lord invites us to open our heart to the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that he may guide us on the paths of history. Day by day, he teaches us the logic of the Gospel, the logic of welcoming love, by ‘teaching us all things’ and reminding us ‘of all the Lord has said to us’.
May Mary, whom in this month of May we venerate and to whom we pray with special devotion as our heavenly mother, always protect the Church and the whole of humanity. May she who, with humble and courageous faith, fully cooperated with the Holy Spirit for the incarnation of the Son of God, help us too to allow ourselves to be taught and guided by the Paraclete, so that we may welcome the Word of God and witness to it with our lives.
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 1st May 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s Gospel takes us back to the Upper Room. During the Last Supper, before confronting his passion and death on the cross, Jesus promises the Apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will have the task of teaching and recalling [Jesus’] words to the community of disciples. Jesus says: “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Teach and recall. This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts.
At the moment in which he is about to return to the Father, Jesus foretells of the coming of the Spirit who will first teach the disciples to understand the Gospel ever more fully, in order to welcome it in their existence and to render it living and operative by their witness. While he is about to entrust to the Apostles — which in fact means “envoys” — the mission of taking the Gospel to all the world, Jesus promises that they will not be alone. The Holy Spirit, the Counselor, will be with them, and will be beside them, moreover, will be within them, to protect and support them. Jesus returns to the Father but continues to accompany and teach his disciples through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The second aspect of the Holy Spirit’s mission consists in helping the Apostles to remember Jesus’ words. The Spirit has the task of reawakening the memory, recalling Jesus’ words. The divine Teacher has already communicated all that he intended to entrust to the Apostles: with Him, the Word made flesh, the revelation is complete. The Spirit will recall Jesus’ teachings in the various concrete circumstances of life, so that they may be put into practice. That is precisely what still happens today in the Church, guided by the light and the power of the Holy Spirit, so that he may bring to everyone the gift of salvation, which is the love and mercy of God. For example, each day when you read — as I have advised you — a passage, a passage of the Gospel, ask the Holy Spirit: “Let me understand and remember these words of Jesus”. Then read the passage, every day…. But first the prayer to the Spirit, who is in our heart: “Let me remember and understand”.
We are not alone: Jesus is close to us, among us, within us! His new presence in history happens through the gift of the Holy Spirit, through whom it is possible to instill a living relationship with Him, the Crucified and Risen One. The Spirit, flowing within us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, acts in our life. He guides us in the way to think, to act, to distinguish between what is good and what is bad; he helps us to practice the charity of Jesus, his giving of himself to others, especially to the most needy. We are not alone! The sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is also the peace that Jesus gives to his disciples: “My peace I give to you” (v. 27). It is different from what mankind hopes for or tries to achieve. The peace of Jesus flows from victory over sin, over selfishness which impedes us from loving one another as brothers and sisters. It is a gift of God and a sign of his presence. Each disciple called today to follow Jesus carrying the cross, receives within him- or herself the peace of the Crucified and Risen One in the certainty of his victory and in expectation of his definitive coming.
May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome with docility the Holy Spirit as interior Teacher and as the living Memory of Christ on the daily journey.
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
Saint Peter’s Square
6th Sunday of Easter C, 5 May 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is brave of you to come here in this rain … May the Lord bless you abundantly!
1. In the Gospel we heard a passage from the farewell discourses of Jesus, as related by the evangelist John in the context of the Last Supper. Jesus entrusts his last thoughts, as a spiritual testament, to the apostles before he leaves them. Today’s text makes it clear that Christian faith is completely centred on the relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Whoever loves the Lord Jesus welcomes him and his Father interiorly, and thanks to the Holy Spirit receives the Gospel in his or her heart and life. Here we are shown the centre from which everything must go forth and to which everything must lead: loving God and being Christ’s disciples by living the Gospel. When Benedict XVI spoke to you, he used this expression: evangelical spirit. Dear confraternities, the popular piety of which you are an important sign is a treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is “a place of encounter with Jesus Christ”. Draw always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring; strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the liturgy. Down the centuries confraternities have been crucibles of holiness for countless people who have lived in utter simplicity an intense relationship with the Lord. Advance with determination along the path of holiness; do not rest content with a mediocre Christian life, but let your affiliation serve as a stimulus, above all for you yourselves, to an ever greater love of Jesus Christ.
2. The passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we heard also speaks to us about what is essential. In the early Church there was immediately a need to discern what was essential about being a Christian, about following Christ, and what was not. The apostles and the other elders held an important meeting in Jerusalem, a first “council”, on this theme, to discuss the problems which arose after the Gospel had been preached to the pagans, to non-Jews. It was a providential opportunity for better understanding what is essential, namely, belief in Jesus Christ who died and rose for our sins, and loving him as he loved us. But note how the difficulties were overcome: not from without, but from within the Church. And this brings up a second element which I want to remind you of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: ecclesial spirit. Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors. Dear brothers and sisters, the Church loves you! Be an active presence in the community, as living cells, as living stones. The Latin American Bishops wrote that the popular piety which you reflect is “a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church” (Aparecida Document, 264). This is wonderful! A legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling that we are part of the Church. Love the Church! Let yourselves be guided by her! In your parishes, in your dioceses, be a true “lung” of faith and Christian life, a breath of fresh air! In this Square I see a great variety: earlier on it was a variety of umbrellas, and now of colours and signs. This is also the case with the Church: a great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity; the variety leads back to unity, and unity is the encounter with Christ.
3. I would like to add a third expression which must distinguish you: missionary spirit. You have a specific and important mission, that of keeping alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular piety. When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act; you are pointing to the centrality of the Lord’s paschal mystery, his passion, death and resurrection which have redeemed us, and you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us. Likewise, when you express profound devotion for the Virgin Mary, you are pointing to the highest realization of the Christian life, the one who by her faith and obedience to God’s will, and by her meditation on the words and deeds of Jesus, is the Lord’s perfect disciple (cf. Lumen Gentium, 53). You express this faith, born of hearing the word of God, in ways that engage the senses, the emotions and the symbols of the different cultures … In doing so you help to transmit it to others, and especially the simple persons whom, in the Gospels, Jesus calls “the little ones”. In effect, “journeying together towards shrines, and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization” (Aparecida Document, 264). When you visit shrines, when you bring your family, your children, you are engaged in a real work of evangelization. This needs to continue. May you also be true evangelizers! May your initiatives be “bridges”, means of bringing others to Christ, so as to journey together with him. And in this spirit may you always be attentive to charity. Each individual Christian and every community is missionary to the extent that they bring to others and live the Gospel, and testify to God’s love for all, especially those experiencing difficulties. Be missionaries of God’s love and tenderness! Be missionaries of God’s mercy, which always forgives us, always awaits us and loves us dearly.
Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Three themes! Do not forget them! Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Let us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy and love. In this way we will make our way towards the goal of our earthly pilgrimage, towards that extremely beautiful shrine, the heavenly Jerusalem. There, there is no longer any temple: God himself and the lamb are its temple; and the light of the sun and the moon give way to the glory of the Most High. Amen.
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