22nd May 2021
While this recording is made in Rome, it will be made public from the Anglican Church of Christ, Christ Church, in Jerusalem, where believers from different Christian traditions are gathered.
I want to thank this Anglican church for its hospitality, to thank the people who have made this transmission possible and, first of all, to thank my brother and friend the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who has shared with us such a precious reflection on the Holy Spirit.
I also thank CHARIS for listening to me and making a reality in this Vigil the mission I entrusted to them to work for the Unity of Christians. They have organized this Christian vigil through the Commission they formed with this end, a Commission composed of five Catholics and five members of different churches and Christian communities. Thank you.
This is a very special night. I want to share with you what I have in my heart, thinking of Jerusalem, the holy city for the children of Abraham. I think of the upper room, where the one sent by the Father, the Holy Spirit that Jesus promises after his Resurrection, descends with power on Mary and the disciples, transforming forever their lives and the whole History.
I think of the church of James, the mother church, the first church, the church of believers in Jesus, the Messiah – all of them who were Jews. The church of James, which never disappeared in History, is alive today. I think of the next morning. Residing in Jerusalem, the Acts of the Apostles tell us, were pious Jews from every nation under heaven, who “confounded”,“heard these Galileans speak in their own language”.
And further on, the account describes the community of believers in Jesus: no one was in need because they had all things in common. And the people said of them: See how they love one another. Brotherly love identifies them. And the presence of the Spirit makes them understandable. Tonight, more than ever, the words “see how they love one another” resound in me. How sad it is when it is said of Christians: “see how they fight”.
Can the world today say of Christians, of them: “see how they love each other” or can they say with truth, “see how they hate each other” or “see how they fight”? What has happened to us? We have sinned against God and against our brothers. We are divided, we have broken into a thousand pieces what God made with so much love, compassion and tenderness. We all, all, need to ask for forgiveness, to the Father of all, and we also need to forgive ourselves.
If Christian unity in mutual love has always been necessary, today it is more urgent than ever. Let us look at the world: the plague is the effect not only of a virus, but of the selfishness and the greed that make the poor poorer and the rich richer. Nature is reaching the limit of its possibilities due to the predatory action of man. Yes, man, to whom God entrusted the care and fruitfulness of the earth.
Brothers and sisters, tonight can be a prophecy, it can be the beginning of the witness that we Christians, together, have to give to the world: to be witnesses of the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. The love to which we, believers in Jesus, have been called. For tonight, thousands of Christians raise together, from the corners of the earth, the same prayer: Come Holy Spirit! Come Spirit of love and change the face of the earth and change my heart!
Tonight, I exhort you to go out into the world and make a reality of the testimony of the first Christian community: “See how they love one another”. Go out together to infect the world! Let’s allow ourselves to be changed by the Holy Spirit, in order to change the world. God is faithful, he never withdraws his promises, and for this reason – because God is faithful – I would like to recall today, from Jerusalem, this prophecy of the great prophet of Israel: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths’. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore”.
May it be so.