The Holy Spirit respects differences and creates harmony, Pope says in Verona

Pope Francis, celebrating the Feast of Pentecost in Verona, said the Holy Spirit creates diversity, blesses it and sows peace by harmonizing it for the good of all.

At the end of a full day in Verona on May 18, the Pope celebrated a vigil in the city’s Pentecostal Stadium with 32,000 people.

One of the most beautiful things about the biblical description of Pentecost is how „there were people from every nation, from every language, from every culture. The Spirit, together with all those people, builds the church.”

„What does that mean? He makes everyone the same?” asked the Pope rhetorically. „No, they are all different, but with one heart, with love that unites us. The Holy Spirit saves us from the danger of making them all the same.”

„We are all redeemed, all loved by the Father, all taught by Jesus Christ, and the Spirit brings it all together,” Francis said.

„Friends, this is today’s miracle,” he said: „The Holy Spirit leads those who fear and fills them with courage, and reconciles people from every race and nation.”

„The opposite of reconciliation is war,” said the Pope, who earlier in the day presided over a gathering of people’s movements and church groups committed to working for justice and peace.

The Pope began his address by saying that many Catholics do not know how to answer when asked who the Holy Spirit is.

„One day, at one such Pentecostal Mass, with about 200 children, I asked, „Who is the Holy Spirit?” Many children raised their hands to answer, and the boy chosen to answer said, „He is the Paraclete, because he heard someone say, 'He is the Paraclete.’ He said, confused.

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„I’m not saying that if I ask you, you’ll answer 'suppressor,’ but many of us don’t know who the Holy Spirit is,” Francis told the crowd.

„I’m not saying that if I ask you, you’ll answer 'suppressor,’ but many of us don’t know who the Holy Spirit is,” Francis told the crowd.

Nevertheless, he said, the Holy Spirit is the „protagonist” of the Christian life, the person of the Trinity who helps people keep going in the face of trials, misunderstandings or persecution.

„We all received the Holy Spirit in Baptism, even more so, with Confirmation,” the Pope said.

But people should ask themselves, „Am I listening to the Holy Spirit within me? Am I listening to the Spirit that is stirring my heart and saying, 'Do this, don’t do that’? Or do I not have the Holy Spirit?” he said.

Francis asked the crowd to think about the Pentecost scene described in the Bible with the apostles gathered in the upper room. „Then the Holy Spirit came and changed their hearts, and they went out and preached the gospel boldly.”

„Courage,” he repeated. „The Holy Spirit gives you courage to live the Christian life.”

The gift of courage of the spirit can help people change their lives, the Pope said, explaining how people confess the same sins over and over again and say to the priest, „I want to change.”

Pray to the Holy Spirit, he said. „You only have one more day (to live), the Spirit can change your life, He can change your heart.”

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After the Mass, Francis returned to the Vatican in a helicopter.

Meeting with reporters later, Bishop Domenico Pompili of Verona said after lunch at Verona’s Montorio prison that the pope told him, „Let’s stop and say hello to your mother,” and that he and the pope were delayed in arriving at the stadium. So, they took a small detour to wish the lady who recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Crowds of Veronese and tourists lined the roads leading to the stadium, the bishop said, and people kept shouting „Francesco” or „Francis.”

„The communicative power of this Pope is that he crosses distances, erases borders, and people are drawn to him by his welcoming spirit,” the bishop said. Calling out his name is „not just a way to get his attention, but a sign that they respect him.”

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