Mass of the Solemnity of Pentecost. Photo: Vatican Media

Who Is the Holy Spirit? The Pope Explains Him with Three Ideas in His Homily for Pentecost, which Is Valid for the Whole Year

“The Holy Spirit will never tell you that all Is well in your journey. He will never tell you that because it’s not true. No, He corrects you, He also leads you to weep for your sins and encourages you to change, to fight against falsehood and hypocrisy, even when it implies difficulty, internal struggle and sacrifice. Instead, the evil spirit pushes you to do always what you like and what you want. He leads you to believe that you have the right to use your freedom as you will. However, afterwards, when you remain empty interiorly” continued the Pope in a part of his homily.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 06.06.2022).- In the hierarchy of the Church’s feasts, the Solemnity of Pentecost is third in importance, after Easter and Christmas. Commemorated in Pentecost is the coming of the Hoy Spirit on the Apostles and the birth of the Church. Although initially it was announced that the Holy Father would preside over that Eucharistic Celebration, he only intervened to give the homily and followed the Mass presided over by Cardinal Re from his wheelchair. 

The Pope’s homily focused on the Holy Spirit, who makes us see everything in a new way, from Jesus’ point of view. In this connection, he explained who the Holy Spirit is in very simple and comprehensible words. Here is the complete text of the homily with headers added in bold by ZENIT. 

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Introduction: the Holy Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, according to Jesus’ point of view

In the last phrase of the Gospel we heard, Jesus makes an affirmation that gives us hope and, at the same time, leads us to reflect. He says to the disciples: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). We are struck by that “all.” And we wonder in what sense the Spirit gives this new and full understanding to those that receive Him. It’s not a question of quantity, or an academic question. God doesn’t want us to become encyclopedias or erudite people. No. It’s a question of quality, of perspective, of smell. The Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, according to Jesus’ point of view. I would say it thus: He teaches us, in life’s great journey, where to begin, what paths to choose and how to walk. The Spirit is there, who tells us where to begin, what path to take and how to walk, the style of “how to walk.” 

  • 1. It’s the holy Spirit who points out to us where to begin


In the first place, where to begin. In fact, the Spirit points out to us the point of departure of the spiritual life. What is it? Jesus speaks of it in today’s first verse, when He says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v. 15). If you love me, you will comply; this is the logic of the Spirit. We often think the other way round: if we comply, we love. We are used to thinking that love stems essentially from our compliance, from our talent, from our religiosity. Instead, the Spirit reminds us that, without love at the center, all the rest is in vain. And that this love does not stem so much from our capacities; this love is His gift. He teaches us how to love and we must pray for this gift. It’s the Spirit of love that infuses love in us. It is He who makes us feel loved and who teaches us to love. He is the “engine” – so to speak – of our spiritual life. It is He who moves all in our interior. However, if we don’t begin by the Spirit, with the Spirit or through the Spirit, the journey can’t be undertaken. 

He himself reminds us of this, because He is God’s memory, He is the one that recalls to us all Jesus’ words (cf. v. 26). And the Holy Spirit is an active memory, which enkindles and revives the love of God in our heart. We have felt His presence in the forgiveness of sins, when feeling full of His peace, of His freedom and of His consolation. It’s essential to nourish this memory. We always remember what is not right, that voice often resounds in us that reminds us of failures and deficiencies, which says to us: You see, another fall, another disappointment, you’ll never succeed, you are unable.” This is a bad and dangerous burden. Instead, the Holy Spirit reminds us the opposite: “Have you fallen? But you are a son. Have you fallen? You are God’s daughter, you are a unique creature, chosen, precious. Have you fallen? But you are always loved, even if you have lost confidence in yourself.” This is the Spirit’s memory, what the Spirit reminds us constantly: God remembers you. You can lose the memory of God, but God doesn’t forget you; He remembers you constantly. 

However, you might object: these are only nice words; I have many problems, wounds and worries that aren’t resolved with easy consolations. Well, it’s precisely here that the Spirit wishes to enter. Because He, the Consoler, is Spirit of healing, Spirit of resurrection, who can transform those wounds that burn you inside. He teaches us not to suppress the memories of people and of situations that have harmed us, but to let them inhabit us by their presence. He did so with the Apostles and their failures. They abandoned Jesus before the Passion! Peter denied Him; Paul persecuted the Christians. How many errors, how many guilty feelings! And we think of our errors, many errors, many guilty feelings. On their own, the Apostles couldn’t find a way out. Alone they could not; with the Consoler they could, because the Spirit heals memories; He heals memories. How? By giving importance to what counts, namely, the memory of God’s love and His gaze on us. Thus He puts order in life; He teaches us to welcome one another; He teaches us to forgive, to forgive ourselves. It’s not easy to forgive oneself. The Spirit teaches us this way; He teaches us to reconcile ourselves with the past, to begin again. 

  • 2. It’s the Holy Spirit who shows us what path to take.


Not only does the Spirit reminds us where to begin, but He also shows us what path to take. He reminds us of the point of departure, and now shows us the path to take. The second Reading says this to us, where Saint Paul explains that “all who are led by the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:14) “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4). In other words, in face of the crossroads of existence, He suggests the better path to undertake. Hence it’s important to be able to discern His voice from that of the evil spirit. The two voices speak to us; we must learn to discern  to know where the voice of the Spirit is, to be able to recognize it and follow His way; to follow what He is saying to us. 

Let’s give some examples: the Holy Spirit will never say to you that all is well in your journey. He’ll never say it to you because it’s not true. No. He corrects you; He also leads you to weep for your sins, and He encourages you to change, to fight against your falsehoods and hypocrisies, even when that implies difficulty, interior struggle and sacrifice. Instead, the evil spirit pushes you to do what you like and what you want. He leads you to think that you have the right to use your freedom as you will. But afterwards, when you remain empty interiorly, — this experience of feeling empty inside is awful; many of us have felt it! – and when you remain empty inside, he accuses you. The evil spirit accuses you, he becomes the accuser, he throws you down and destroys you. The Holy Spirit, who corrects you along the journey, never leaves you on the ground, never, but always takes you by the hand, consoles and encourages you. 

When you see that bitterness, pessimism and sad thoughts are agitated within you,  — how many times we have fallen into this! – when these things happen, it’s good to know that that they never come from the Holy Spirit. No bitterness, pessimism, sad thoughts come from the Holy Spirit. They come from the Evil One, who feels comfortable in negativity and uses this strategy often: he fuels impatience, the tendency to feel victimized, the need to feel sorry for ourselves. How bad is this feeling sorry for ourselves. With it comes the need to react to problems by criticizing, and by blaming others. It makes us nervous, distrusting and complainers. Complaint is the language of the evil spirit, which leads us to lament, saddens us, and infects us with the spirit of a funeral procession. Complaints. The Holy Spirit, on the contrary, invites us never to lose confidence and to always begin again. He encourages us saying: get up, get up, He always takes us by the hand and lifts us. How? By making us take the initiative, without waiting for another to begin. And then by taking hope and joy to those we meet, not complaints, never envying others, never! Envy is the door by which the evil spirit enters. The Bible says so. It was through envy that the devil entered the world. Never envy, never. The Holy  Spirit leads you well; he leads you to rejoice over others’ success. “It’s great that this turned out well.”

Moreover, the Holy Spirit is concrete; He is not an idealist. He wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the place where we are and the time we are living are the places of grace. The place of grace is the concrete place today, in the here and now. How? They aren’t the fantasies that we can imagine; it’s the Spirit who always leads you to the concrete. Instead, the evil spirit wants to distract us from the here and now, and lead our head elsewhere. He often anchors us in the past, in remorse, in nostalgia, and in what life has not given us; or he projects us to the future, fuelling fears, illusions, false hopes. Instead, the Holy Spirit leads us to love the here and now, the concrete, not an ideal world, or an ideal Church, or an ideal Religious Congregation, but the reality, in the light of the sun, in transparency and simplicity. What a difference from the Evil One, who foments things said behind one’s back, gossip and backbiting! Gossip is an evil habit that destroys people’s identity. 

  • 3. It is the holy Spirit who teaches us how to walk


The Spirit wants us together, He founds us as Church and today – third and last aspect – He teaches the Church how to walk. The disciples were hiding in the Cenacle; then the Spirit descended and made them go forth. Without the Spirit they were shut-in on  themselves; with the Spirit, they opened to all. Every time the Spirit turns our schemes around and opens us to His novelty. There is always a novelty which is the novelty of the Holy Spirit. He always teaches the Church the vital need to go forth, the physiological exigency to proclaim, not to remain shut-in on oneself, not to be a flock that reinforces the enclosure, but an open field so that all can be nourished by the beauty of God, who shows us how to be a welcoming home without dividing walls. Instead, the worldly spirit pressures us to be concentrated solely on our problems, our interests, the need to be important, the tenacious defense of our national or group membership. The Holy Spirit does not. He invites us to forget ourselves and to open ourselves to all.  And thus He rejuvenates the Church. However, pay attention, He is the one who rejuvenates, not us. We try to make her up a bit and this is of no use, but He rejuvenates her, because the Church is not to be programmed and renewal plans don’t suffice. The Spirit frees us from obsession with urgencies, and invites us to undertake old and always new paths, those of witness, paths of witness, paths of poverty and paths of mission, to free us from ourselves and to send us out to the world. 

And in the end, which is curious, the Holy Spirit is the author of division, including of a certain confusion, of a certain disorder. Let’s think of the morning of Pentecost: the Spirit created division of languages, of attitudes, it was all an upheaval! However, He is likewise the author of harmony. He divides with the variety of charisms, but it’s a false division, because the true division is integrated in harmony. He divides the charisms and brings about harmony with all this division, and this is the richness of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, let us enter the school of the Holy Spirit, so that He will teach us everything. Let us invoke Him every day, so that He will remind us that we must always begin from God’s gaze on us, take decisions by listening to His voice, and walk together as Church, docile to Him and open to the world. So be it. 

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