VATICAN CITY (RNS) — During a Mass this Sunday (May 31) celebrating Pentecost, when Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ apostles, Pope Francis called on faithful to be bringers of unity at a time when the world seems rife with division.
Francis celebrated Mass before a small number of Catholic faithful, who were wearing masks and respecting social distancing measures within St. Peter’s Basilica. This weekend the pope celebrated the first public events since the beginning of the pandemic, which took over Italy and the Vatican in early March.
In his homily, Francis drew from the gospels to explain the differences among the twelve apostles. They “were from different backgrounds and social contexts,” and all of them “had different ideas and sensibilities,” the pope said.
“They were all different. Jesus did not change them; he did not make them into a set of pre-packaged models. No. He left their differences, and now he unites them by anointing them with the Holy Spirit,” Francis said.
“With the anointing comes their union — union in diversity,” he added.
To faithful in the United States, this message comes at a time of deep fracture and division as riots and protests continue following the death of George Floyd on Monday (May 25). A viral video recorded his final moments where a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, is seen pressing his knee into the neck of an unarmed Floyd.
The event stirred the already unstable dynamics surrounding race in the United States and heightened division in the country.
“We, too, have our differences, for example: of opinions, choices, sensibilities,” Francis observed on Sunday. “But the temptation is always to fiercely defend our ideas, believing them to be good for everybody and agreeing only with those who think as we do. This is a bad temptation that brings division.”
According to the pontiff, “so much more” unites people than beliefs or morality. “Our principle of unity is the Holy Spirit. He reminds us that first of all we are God’s beloved children; all equal, in this respect, and all different,” he said.
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Source: Religion News Service