Regina Caeli: A Church That Doesn't Surprise is Weak and Dying

Fundamental Element of Pentecost is Surprise, Pope Says

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Pope Francis has stressed the need for the Church to always surprise.

Before praying the Regina Coeli yesterday with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the theme of the Pope’s meditation was the event of Pentecost, which commemorates the birth of the Church and its public manifestation.

He urged that just as the Apostles incorporated “surprise” in their witness after receiving the Spirit in the event of the first Pentecost, the Church of today must not forget it also must surprise.

“Be careful,” the Pope warned. “If the Church is alive, she must always surprise. To surprise is typical of the living Church. A Church that no longer has the capacity to surprise is a weak, sick and dying church, that must be brought into the emergency room and resuscitated as soon as possible!”

During his words before the recitation of the midday prayer, Pope Francis observed two characteristics draw our attention: “a Church which surprises and a Church which disconcerts,” since “a fundamental element of Pentecost is surprise.”

We know our God is the God of surprises, he said. “No-one expected anything more from the disciples: after the death of Jesus they were an insignificant group, the defeated orphans of their Master. Instead, an unexpected event occurred, that inspired wonder: the people were unsettled as each heard the disciples speaking in his own language, recounting God’s great works.

“The Church that was born on Pentecost is a community that inspires wonder as, with the strength that comes from God, she proclaims a new message – the Resurrection of Christ – with a new language, the universal language of love.” He added, “The disciples are invested with power from above and speak with courage; a few minutes earlier they were all cowardly, whereas now they speak with courage and frankness, with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.”

He said the Church “is called always to be like this: able to surprise by proclaiming to all that Jesus Christ has defeated death, that God’s arms are always open, that His patience is always there and awaits us to heal and forgive us. Precisely for this mission, the resurrected Jesus gave His spirit to the Church.”

He said that, without surprise, the Church is in need of urgent help.

“Some, in Jerusalem, would have preferred it if Jesus’ disciples, paralysed by fear, had stayed closed away at home, so as not to create a disturbance. Even nowadays,” the Pope said, “many would rather Christians were this way. Instead, the Risen Lord sends them into the world: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’

“The Church of Pentecost is a Church who does not resign herself to being innocuous, too ‘diluted’. No, she does not resign herself to this! She does not wish to be a decorative element. And a Church who does not hesitate to reach out and to encounter people, to proclaim the message entrusted to her, even if this message disturbs or upsets consciences, even if this message perhaps brings problems, and even if, at times, it leads us to martyrdom,” the Holy Father said.

The Church was born “one and universal, with a precise identity, but open, a Church who embraces the world but does not capture it; who leaves it free but embraces it like the colonnade of this Square: two arms that open to welcome, but do not close to stifle. We Christians are free, and the Church wants us to be free!” (D.C.L.)


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