VATICAN CITY - The power of the Holy Spirit transforms people
into bold witnesses of the Gospel, who reach out to others,
exercise charity and live in harmony with creation, Pope
Celebrating Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and
reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer with tens of thousands of
people gathered in St. Peter's Square May 24, the pope spoke
of Pentecost as the day the church was born universal but
When the Spirit came upon the disciples, Pope Francis told
people in the square, "they were completely transformed: fear
was replaced by courage, closure gave way to proclamation and
every doubt was driven away by faith full of love."
The day's first reading, Acts 2:1-11, recounts how people
from every land heard the disciples speaking in their own
languages, the pope said. "The church was not born isolated,
it was born universal - one, catholic - with a precise
identity, but open to all."
The good news of salvation proclaimed by the disciples was
meant for the whole world, he said.
"Mother church does not close the door in anyone's face," he
said. "Not even the biggest sinner's."
The tongue of fire resting on the head of each disciple as a
sign of the Holy Spirit was "the flame of love that burns
away all harshness; it was the language of the Gospel that
crosses every border humans make and touches the hearts of
the multitude without distinction of language, race or
Today, just as on Pentecost, the pope said, the Holy Spirit
is poured out on the church and on every follower of Jesus
"so that we would leave behind our mediocrity and being
closed off, and rather communicate to the whole world the
merciful love of the Lord."
Pope Francis urged Christians to model their lives on the two
people beatified May 23: Archbishop Oscar Romero of San
Salvador and Italian Consolata Sister Irene Stefani, who
worked and died in Kenya.
Referring to Blessed Romero as a "zealous pastor," Pope
Francis said that "following Jesus' example, he chose to be
in the midst of his people, especially the poor and
oppressed, even at the cost of his life."
Blessed Stefani, he said, "served the Kenyan people with joy,
mercy and tender compassion."
"May the heroic example of these blessed ones give rise in
each of us to the deep desire to witness to the Gospel with
courage and self-sacrifice."
In his homily at the Pentecost Mass that morning, Pope
Francis said the Scriptures assure Christians that the Holy
Spirit continues to be at work in the church and in the world
doing what Jesus promised the Spirit would do: "he guides us
into all the truth, he renews the face of the earth, and he
gives us his fruits."
Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples went from being
confused about Jesus' death and afraid to speak and afraid of
being arrested, to being bold announcers of salvation in
Jesus, the pope said.
The Spirit made them understand that "the death of Jesus was
not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God's
love, a love that, in the resurrection, conquers death and
exalts Jesus as the living one, the Lord, the redeemer of
mankind, the Lord of history and of the world."
At the same time, the pope said, the Spirit is the one who
renews the earth and can renew people's relationship with it.
"The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the
creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the
same," he said. "Respect for creation, then, is a requirement
of our faith: the 'garden' in which we live is not entrusted
to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended
If people allow themselves to be renewed by the spirit, he
said, "we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of
sons and daughters in harmony with all creation."
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant to be shared with all,
Pope Francis said. "The world needs the fruits, the gifts of
the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul lists them: 'love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
God sent the Holy Spirit "so that we may live lives of
genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds
of reconciliation and peace."
The Spirit cannot be forced on anyone, the pope said. But
"closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a
lack of freedom, it is a sin."
"There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy
Spirit: by selfishness for one's own gain; by rigid legalism
- seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law whom Jesus
referred to as hypocrites; by neglect of what Jesus taught;
by living the Christian life not as service to others but in
the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other
"Strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts," Pope
Francis prayed, "may we be able to battle uncompromisingly
against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption,
which continues to spread in the world day after day (and)
devote ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of
justice and peace.