Pope Francis on Pentecost: Jesus 'will not leave you orphans'

“We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA,” Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday after noting that many people in today’s world are living as “orphans.”

He drew attention in his homily at Mass in St Peter’s basilica, May 14, to the various “signs of our being orphans” in today’s world. He mentioned five, but acknowledged there are others.  

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We see it first of all, he said, “in the interior loneliness which we feel even when we are surrounded by people, a loneliness which can become an existential sadness.” Secondly, we see it “in the attempt to be free of God, even if accompanied by a desire for his presence.” He identified the third and fourth signs “in the all-too-common spiritual illiteracy which renders us incapable of prayer,” and “in the difficulty in grasping the truth and reality of eternal life as that fullness of communion which begins on earth and reaches full flower after death.” He saw a fifth sign in “the difficulty” we have “to see others as ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, since we are children of the same Father.”

Pope Francis reminded the 7,000 faithful from all continents, as well as the many cardinals and bishops present in the basilica on this great feast that Jesus had promised his followers, “I will not leave you orphans.”  

In actual fact, Francis said, “the central purpose of Jesus mission, which culminated in the gift of the Holy Spirit, was to renew our relationship with the Father, a relationship severed by sin, to take us from our state of being orphaned children and to restore us as his sons and daughters.”

He explained that “the Spirit is given to us by the Father and leads us back to the Father.” Indeed, he said, “the entire work of salvation is one of ‘regeneration’ in which the fatherhood of God, through the gift of the Son and the Holy Spirit, frees us from the condition of being orphans into which we had fallen.”

He recalled that “our primordial vocation” is to be “children of God.” Putting it in an even more emphatic way he said, “We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA.”

Celebrating Pentecost as pope for the fourth time, Francis reminded those present and his much bigger global audience that, “The Spirit, as Saint Paul says, unites us to Christ.”  By “strengthening our relationship of belonging to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit enables us to enter into a new experience of fraternity,” he said.

He concluded his homily telling everyone that “by means of our universal Brother—Jesus—we can relate to one another in a new way; no longer as orphans, but rather as children of the same good and merciful Father. And this changes everything!”        

After Mass

Pope Francis greeted tens of thousands of pilgrims from many countries gathered in St Peter’s Square and spoke again about the Holy Spirit. He recalled that Jesus promised his disciples that after he had departed this world he would send them “another Paraclete.” He explained that the Greek word ‘paraclete’ means “consoler, advocate, intercessor, the one who assists, who defends us, who is at our side in the journey of life and in the struggle for good and against evil.” He reminded everyone that Jesus is “the first” Paraclete. 

Today, he said, the Holy Spirit “exercises the function of teaching and memory” in the community of believers. The Spirit “does not bring a different teaching” but “makes alive and operative that of Jesus, so that as time passes it is not cancelled or weakened.” Moreover, the Spirit grafts that teaching “into our heart, helping us to internalize it, making it become part of us.” 

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