Pope Francis focused the first homily of his Holy Land pilgrimage on the work of Holy Spirit in bringing peace and unity amongst different peoples. Preaching during the Mass held on May 24 at the International Stadium in Amman, Jordan, the pope noted, “We are not far from where the Holy Spirit descended with power on Jesus of Nazareth after his baptism by John in the River Jordan.” “The mission of the Holy Spirit, in fact, is to beget harmony - he is himself harmony - and to create peace in different situations and between different people.” During the Saturday afternoon Mass attended by thousands of Christians, who make up a minority of the population in Jordan, some 1,400 children received their first communion. Pope Francis used the occasion to mediate on the work of the Holy Spirit, who prepared Jesus for his mission at the baptism in the Jordan, just the Spirit now works to prepare the way to greater unity amongst peoples. “Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches. So today, with fervent hearts, we invoke the Holy Spirit and ask him to prepare the path to unity and peace.” The Holy Father also expressed his closeness to the many Christian refugees who have had to feel their homes in Palestine, Syria, and Iraq due to political unrest. “Please bring my greeting to your families and communities, and assure them of my closeness,” he asked. “The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the Jordan and thus inaugurated his work of redemption to free the world from sin and death,” he preached. “Let us ask the Spirit to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so that we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion.” Reflecting on Jesus’ life, Pope Francis noted that the preparation for peace sometimes comes in the form of prophecy, as in the case of Simeon and Anna who “were awaiting the Messiah.” Upon seeing the infant Jesus, they “knew immediately that he was the one long awaited by the people.” The two elderly people “gave prophetic expression to the joy of encountering the Redeemer and, in a certain sense, served as a preparation for the encounter between the Messiah and the people,” the pontiff remarked. The pope went on to explain that the Holy Spirit works in Christians just as he worked to prepare the way for Christ. Moreover, just as the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus “inwardly,” he also “anoints the disciples so that they can have the mind of Christ and thus be disposed to live lives of peace and communion.” It is the anointing of the Spirit, Pope Francis reminded the crowds, that enables Christians to love their neighbors with the same love God has for them. “We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation. These signs are a prerequisite of a true, stable and lasting peace,” he said. “Let us ask the Father to anoint us so that we may fully become his children, ever more conformed to Christ, and may learn to see one another as brothers and sisters.” Christians must be “messengers and witnesses of peace” sent by the Holy Spirit, stressed Pope Francis. “Peace is not something which can be bought,” he emphasized. “It is a gift to be sought patiently and to be ‘crafted’ through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives.” The path to peace will be easier if “we never forget we have the same heavenly Father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness.” Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying that the Holy Spirit may “anoint our whole being with the oil of his mercy, which heals the injuries caused by mistakes, misunderstandings, and disputes.”
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