Pope at Regina Coeli: The Spirit frees us from fears and opens doors
By Linda Bordoni
“Today, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Gospel takes us to the upper room, where the apostles had taken refuge after the death of Jesus,” said Pope Francis greeting pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter’s Square.
He recalled how on the evening of Passover the Risen One presented himself to the disciples who were in a situation of fear and anguish.
“Breathing on them,” the Pope added, Jesus says: “Receive the Holy Spirit”.
The gift of the Spirit
With the gift of the Spirit, the Holy Father explained, Jesus wished to free the disciples from fear so they were able “to go out and become witnesses and proclaimers of the Gospel.”
Referring to the reading from the Gospel according to John, he explained that the disciples had closed the doors “for fear”. They were shocked by Jesus’ death and their hopes had vanished. Thus, the Pope continued, “they closed themselves inside.”
“How often do we too shut ourselves in?” he asked, because of a difficult situation, or personal problem, or because of “a suffering that marks us or the evil we breathe around us,” we risk slipping into hopelessness and lack the courage to go on.
This “shutting ourselves in” the Pope said, happens when, in the most difficult situations, we allow fear to take the upper hand.
As a reaction, “the doors of the heart close, as when an alarm goes off inside a building,” he noted.
Reflecting on how fear of not being able to cope, of having to face difficulties alone, of undergoing disappointments and of making the wrong decisions blocks and paralyses us, Pope Francis said it also isolates us.
“Think of the fear of others, of those who are foreign, who are different, who think in another way. And there can even be the fear of God: that he will punish me, that he will be angry with me… If we give space to these false fears, the doors close: those of the heart, of society, and even the doors of the Church!” he said.
The remedy of the Risen One
But then he reassured those present saying that “the Gospel offers us the remedy of the Risen One: The Holy Spirit.”
“He frees us from the prisons of fear,” the Pope said, explaining that the feast of Pentecost that we celebrate today shows how, “When they receive the Spirit, the apostles come out of the upper room and go out into the world to forgive sins and to proclaim the good news.”
The Spirit makes us feel God’s proximity
It is the Spirit, the Pope continued, who makes us feel God’s proximity.
“His love casts out fear, illuminates the way, consoles, sustains in adversity,” he said.
The Pope concluded asking those present to invoke the Holy Spirit “for us, for the Church and for the whole world: let a new Pentecost cast out the fears that assail us and revive the flame of God’s love.”