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Solemnity of Pentecost in the Jubilee 2000

Pope St John Paul II's homily at the Pentecost Vigil
St Peter's Square, Saturday 10th June 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "1. "When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me" (Jn 15, 26).

These are the words that the Evangelist John received from Christ's lips in the Upper Room, during the Last Supper on the eve of his Passion. Today they resound with remarkable intensity for us on Pentecost of this Jubilee Year, whose deepest meaning they reveal.

To understand this essential message, one needs to, like the disciples, in the Upper Room. This is why the Church, through a fitting selection of liturgical texts, has remained in the Upper Room throughout the Easter season. This evening St Peter's Square is transformed into a vast Upper Room in which our community has gathered to pray for and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, reminded us of what happened in Jerusalem 50 days after Easter. Before ascending into heaven Christ had entrusted a great task to the Apostles: "Go ... and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28, 19-20). He had also promised that after his departure they would receive "another Counselor", who would teach them all things (cf Jn 14, 16.26).

This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost: the Spirit, descending upon the Apostles, gave them the necessary light and strength to teach the nations and to proclaim Christ's Gospel to them all. In this way the Church was born and lives in the fruitful tension between the Upper Room and the world, between prayer and proclamation.

2. When he had promised the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus had spoken of him as the "Counselor" and "Paraclete" whom he would send from the Father (cf Jn 15, 26). He had spoken of him as the "Spirit of truth" who would guide the Church into all the truth (Jn 16, 13). He had explained that the Holy Spirit would bear witness to him (cf Jn 15, 26), but had immediately added: "And you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning" (Jn 15, 27). Now that the Spirit descends on the community gathered in the Upper Room on Pentecost, this twofold witness begins: that of the Holy Spirit and that of the Apostles.

The witness of the Spirit is divine in itself: it comes from the depth of the Trinitarian mystery. The Apostles' witness is human: it transmits, in the light of revelation, their experience of life with Jesus. In laying the foundations of the Church, Christ attaches great importance to the human witness of the Apostles. He wants the Church to live by the historical truth of his Incarnation, so that through the work of witnesses the memory of his Death on the cross and of his Resurrection may always be alive and in her.

3. "And you also are witnesses" (Jn 15, 27). Enlivened by the gift of the Spirit, the Church has always been keenly aware of this duty and has faithfully proclaimed the Gospel message in every time and place. She has done so with respect for the dignity of peoples, of their culture, of their traditions. Indeed, she well knows that the divine message entrusted to her is not hostile to the deepest human aspirations; indeed, it was revealed by God to satisfy, beyond every expectation, the hunger and thirst of the human heart. For this very reason the Gospel must not be imposed but proposed, because it can only be effective if it is freely accepted and lovingly embraced.

As happened in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost, in every age Christ's witnesses, filled with the Holy Spirit, have felt impelled to reach out to others in order to express in various languages the marvels God has accomplished. This continues to happen in our time as well, and is the emphasis of this Jubilee Day dedicated to "reflection on the duties of Catholics towards others: proclamation of Christ, witness and dialogue".

The reflection we are invited to make cannot fail to dwell above all on the work which the Holy Spirit carries out in individuals and in communities. It is the Holy Spirit who scatters the "seeds of the Word" in the various customs and cultures, preparing the peoples of the most varied regions to accept the Gospel message. This awareness cannot fail to instil in Christ's disciples an attitude of openness and dialogue towards those with different religious convictions. Indeed, it is only right to listen to what the Spirit can also suggest to "others". They can offer useful hints for reaching a deeper understanding of what the Christian already possesses in the "revealed desposit". Dialogue can thus open the way to a proclamation which is better suited to the personal conditions of the listener.

4. However, if the proclamation is to be effective, a lived witness remains crucial. Only the believer who lives what he professes with his lips has any hope of being heard. One must bear in mind that circumstances at times do not permit an explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of all. It is then that the witness of a life that is respectful, chaste, detached from riches and free from the powers of this world, in a word, the witness of holiness, can reveal all its convincing strength, even if offered in silence.

It is also clear that our firmness in being witnesses of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit does not prevent us from collaborating in the service of man with those who belong to other religions. On the contrary, it prompts us to work together with them for the good of society and peace in the world.

At the dawn of the third millennium, Christ's disciples are fully aware that this world appears as "a map of various religions" (Redemptor hominis, 11). If the children of the Church know how to remain open to the Holy Spirit's action, He will help them communicate, 
in a way respectful of other religious convictions, the unique and universal salvific message of Christ.

5. "He will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning" (Jn 15, 26-27). The whole logic of Revelation and the faith by which the Church lives is contained in these words: the witness of the Holy Spirit, which flows from the depth of the Trinitarian mystery of God, and the human witness of the Apostles, linked to their historical experience of Christ. Both are necessary. To be more precise, it is a single witness: it is the Spirit who continues to speak to our contemporaries in the language and life of those who are Christ's disciples today.

On the day we celebrate the memorial of the Church's birth, we want to express heartfelt gratitude to God for this twofold, and ultimately one, witness, which has involved the great family of the Church since the day of Pentecost. We want to give thanks for the witness of the first community of Jerusalem which, through the generations of martyrs and confessors, has become the inheritance of countless men and women down the ages around the world.

Encouraged by the memory of the first Pentecost, the Church today eagerly awaits a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Devoted with one accord to prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she never ceases to cry out: "Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth" (cf Ps 103, 30).

Veni, Sancte Spiritus: Come, Holy Spirit, kindle in the hearts of your faithful the fire of your love!

Sancte Spiritus, veni!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Regina Caeli in the Jubilee 2000
Sunday of Pentecost, 11 June 2000 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. This Sunday we are celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost. During the Holy Mass at which I had the joy of presiding yesterday evening St Peter's Square became like an "upper room" in the heart of Rome. An upper room spiritually linked to the one in Jerusalem where the first miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Mary Most Holy took place almost 2,000 years ago.

On that day the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church was born. One, because the Spirit made the Church a mystery of communion, an icon on earth of the Most Holy Trinity; holy, because the Spirit preserves in her members the holiness of Christ the Head; catholic, because the Spirit spurs her to proclaim the one Gospel of salvation to all peoples; apostolic, because through the ministry of the Apostles and their successors the Spirit guides her on the paths of history.

2. In the light of today's feast, this Jubilee Day dedicated to reflection on the duties of Catholics towards others: proclamation of Christ, witness and dialogue becomes extraordinarily significant. Promoted by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, it invites every baptized person and every ecclesial community to meditate on how to be more and more committed to proclaiming and bearing witness to Christ to all, while respecting their different religious affiliations. It is very important to work together with every man and woman of good will to build a more just and fraternal world.

Only in Christ can this project of authentic spiritual and social renewal be achieved. This is why, also as part of the Jubilee, the International Eucharistic Congress will be held here in Rome next Sunday. Its events will include the traditional Corpus Christi procession on Thursday, the 22nd, and the solemn concluding celebration, called "Statio Orbis", on the evening of Sunday, the 25th. Jesus, who was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit 2,000 years ago, remains among us in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the living Bread come down from heaven, the Bread of our journey and hope.

3. In these days a meeting of historic importance will begin between the leaders of North and South Korea in Pyongyang, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. I join all men and women of good will in congratulating the two countries' leaders for this initiative, and hope that the dialogue and exchanges will contribute to the reconciliation of the two populations, the reunion of families separated for half a century and renewed stability and prosperity throughout the Korean peninsula. Only by generous commitment to the common good will it be possible to overcome the difficulties and achieve a positive result, which will be a cause of joyful hope for humanity."

After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father said:

"On the occasion of Pentecost, Expo Missionaria 2000, an important exhibition on the mission world, opened yesterday in Rome at the Abbey of Tre Fontane and will continue until the end of the Jubilee. I greet and bless the organizers and missionaries present here, and am certain that, by visiting this exhibition, pilgrims will have a better understanding of how faith in Jesus Christ is proclaimed and witnessed to always and everywhere.

Saludo ahora con todo afecto a las personas, familias y grupos de lengua española aquí presentes. En particular, a los peregrinos nicaragüenses venidos a reafirmar su fe. En esta fiesta de Pentecostés os bendigo a todos de corazón.

Saluto i pellegrini italiani, in particolare l'Orchestra giovanile ed il Coro di Cirié (Torino), il gruppo di anziani di Santa Maria del Cedro (Cosenza), il circolo ACLI di Grassina (Firenze), le catechiste di Gardolo (Trento), i fedeli provenienti da Gargallo di Carpi e il Gruppo ciclistico di Noicattaro (Bari), i pellegrini del centro sociale vincenziano di Torino.

Per tutti invoco pace e letizia, doni dello Spirito Santo.

My thoughts now turn to Africa. Once again Africa's heart is bleeding!

In recent days the population of the city of Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been taken hostage by the violence of armed factions fighting one another. Nor have the Church's institutions been spared. There are hundreds of dead and wounded.

I appeal to the responsibility and sensitivity of the political and military authorities, and pray that God will make them hear the voice of conscience: Africa, and in particular the Democratic Republic of the Congo, need reconciliation and peace.

May Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace, intercede for us."