Reflecting on the liturgy of the day, the Pope explained that thanks to the Holy Spirit, the disciples’ worries disappeared.
Rejuvenated by the Spirit, he said, their lives were changed, and he pointed out that “far from being an abstract reality: he is the Person who is most concrete and close, the one who changes our lives”.
“How does he do this?” the Pope asked: “The Holy Spirit did not make things easier for them,” he said, “he didn’t work spectacular miracles, he didn’t take away their difficulties and their opponents. The Spirit brought into the lives of the disciples a harmony that had been lacking, his own harmony, for he is harmony”.
The Pope said that “seeing the Risen Lord is not enough, unless we welcome him into our hearts.”
He explained that it is the Spirit who makes Jesus live within us, raising us up from within.
“That is why when Jesus appears to his disciples, he repeats the words, ‘Peace be with you!’, and bestows the Spirit,” he said.
Peace, Pope Francis explained, is not a matter of resolving outward problems, it’s about receiving the Holy Spirit.
Only filled with the Spirit, he said, our hearts can be peaceful and we can achieve a harmony so profound that it can “even turn persecutions into blessings”.
“Resolving momentary problems will not bring peace. What makes a difference is the peace of Jesus, the harmony of the Spirit,” he said.
Pope Francis said that at today’s frenzied pace of life, harmony seems swept aside and often we look for quick fixes.
But more than anything else, he said, we need the Spirit. “The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial,” he said. Without the Spirit, the Pope continued, our Christian life unravels, lacking the love that brings everything together.
“Without the Spirit, Jesus remains a personage from the past; with the Spirit, he is a person alive in our own time. Without the Spirit, Scripture is a dead letter; with the Spirit it is a word of life. A Christianity without the Spirit is joyless moralism; with the Spirit, it is life,” he said.
The Pope noted that the Holy Spirit does not bring only harmony within us but also among us, distributing the great variety of the Church’s qualities and gifts creatively.
And on the basis of this variety, he continued, the Spirit builds unity: “From the beginning of creation, he has done this. Because he is a specialist in changing chaos into cosmos, in creating harmony.”
Underscoring the fact that lack of harmony in today’s world has led to stark divisions, the Pope said “There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born”.
He said that in “the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming”.
We need the Spirit of unity, Pope Francis said, to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family.
He decried the temptation to “cling to our little group”, to resist all contamination.
“The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. He blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness,” he said.
The Pope continued saying “He looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions” and explained that the Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
Those who live by the Spirit, he said, “bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement”.
Pope Francis concluded his homily with the invitation to adopt the Spirit’s way of seeing things: “Then everything changes: with the Spirit, the Church is the holy People of God, mission is the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father”.
Without the Spirit, he warned, “the Church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion”.
“Let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit,” he said: “Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centredness into self-gift, come to us. (…) Make us artisans of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.”