Spero News
Dec 1 2006


Pope's homily at Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

It impels us, as disciples of Christ advancing with our hesitations
and limitations along the path to unity, to act ceaselessly 'for the
good of all', putting ecumenism at the forefront of our ecclesial
concerns

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the conclusion of my pastoral visit to Turkey, I have the joy of
meeting the Catholic community of Istanbul and celebrating the
Eucharist in thanksgiving to the Lord for all his gifts. I wish first
to greet the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I,
and the Armenian Patriarch, His Beatitude Mesrob II, my venerable
brothers, who have graciously joined us for this celebration. I
express to them my deep gratitude for this fraternal gesture, which
honours the entire Catholic community.

Dear brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church, Bishops, priests
and deacons, religious and lay men and women belonging to the
different communities of the city and the various rites of the
Church: I greet all of you with joy in the words of Saint Paul to the
Galatians: `Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ!' (Gal 1:3).

I thank the civil authorities present for their gracious welcome, and
particularly all who made it possible for my visit to take place.
Finally, I greet the representatives of the other ecclesial
communities and the other religions who are present.

How can we fail to think of the various events which took place here
and forged our common history? At the same time I feel obliged to
recall with particular gratitude the many witnesses of the Gospel of
Christ who urge us to work together for the unity of all his
disciples in truth and charity!

In this Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, I wish to thank God for all his
works in human history and to invoke upon everyone the gifts of the
Spirit of holiness. As Saint Paul has just reminded us, the Spirit is
the enduring source of our faith and unity. He awakens within us true
knowledge of Jesus and he puts on our lips the words of faith that
enable us to acknowledge the Lord. Jesus had already said to Peter
after his confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi: `Blessed are you,
Simon, Son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to
you, but my Father in heaven' (Mt 16:17). We are indeed blessed when
the Holy Spirit opens us to the joy of believing and makes us enter
the great family of Christians, his Church. For all her rich
diversity, in the variety of gifts, ministries and works, the Church
is already one, since `it is the same God who inspires them all in
every one'. Paul adds that: `to each is given the manifestation of
the Spirit for the common good'. To manifest the Spirit, to live by
the Spirit, is not to live for oneself alone, but to let oneself be
conformed to Christ Jesus by becoming, like him, the servant of his
brothers and sisters. Here is a very concrete teaching for each of us
Bishops, called by the Lord to guide his people by becoming servants
like him; it is also true for all the Lord's ministers and for all
the faithful: when we received the sacrament of Baptism, all of us
were immersed in the Lord's death and resurrection, `we were given to
drink of the one Spirit' and Christ's life became our own, that we
might live like him, that we might love our brothers and sisters as
he has loved us (cf. Jn 13:34).

Twenty-six years ago, in this very Cathedral, my predecessor, the
Servant of God John Paul II, expressed his hope that the dawn of the
new millennium would `rise upon a Church that has found again her
full unity, in order to bear witness better, amid the exacerbated
tensions of this world, to God's transcendent love, manifested in his
Son Jesus Christ' (Homily in the Cathedral of Istanbul, 5). This hope
has not yet been realized, but the Pope still longs to see it
fulfilled, and it impels us, as disciples of Christ advancing with
our hesitations and limitations along the path to unity, to act
ceaselessly `for the good of all', putting ecumenism at the forefront
of our ecclesial concerns, and not committing our respective Churches
and communities to decisions which could contradict or harm it. Thus
we will truly live by the Spirit of Jesus, at the service of the
common good. Gathered this morning in this house of prayer
consecrated to the Lord, how can we not evoke the other fine image
that Saint Paul uses in speaking of the Church, the image of the
building whose stones are closely fitted together to form a single
structure, and whose cornerstone, on which everything else rests, is
Christ? He is the source of the new life given us by the Father in
the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Saint John has just proclaimed it:
`out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'. This gushing
water, this living water which Jesus promised to the Samaritan woman,
was seen by the prophets Zechariah and Ezechiel issuing forth from
the side of the Temple, so that it could make fruitful the waters of
the Dead Sea: a marvellous image of the promise of life that God has
always made to his people and that Jesus came to fulfil.

In a world where men are so loath to share the earth's goods and
there is a dramatic shortage of water, this good so precious for the
life of the body, the Church discovers that she possesses an even
greater treasure. As the Body of Christ, she has been charged to
proclaim his Gospel to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19),
transmitting to the men and women of our time the Good News which not
only illuminates but overturns their lives, even to the point of
conquering death itself.

This Good News is not just a word, but a person, Christ himself,
risen and alive! By the grace of the sacraments, the water flowing
from his open side on the Cross has become an overflowing spring,
`rivers of living water', a flood that no one can halt, a gift that
restores life. How could Christians keep for themselves alone what
they have received? How could they hoard this treasure and bury this
spring? The Church's mission is not to preserve power, or to gain
wealth; her mission is to offer Christ, to give a share in Christ's
own life, man's most precious good, which God himself gives us in his
Son. Brothers and Sisters, your communities walk the humble path of
daily companionship with those who do not share our faith, yet
`profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us adore the
one, merciful God' (Lumen Gentium, 16). You know well that the Church
wishes to impose nothing on anyone, and that she merely asks to live
in freedom, in order to reveal the One whom she cannot hide, Christ
Jesus, who loved us to the end on the Cross and who has given us his
Spirit, the living presence of God among us and deep within us. Be
ever receptive to the Spirit of Christ and so become attentive to
those who thirst for justice, peace, dignity and respect for
themselves and for their brothers and sisters. Live in harmony, in
accordance with the words of the Lord: `By this everyone will know
that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn
13:35).

Brothers and sisters, let us now hand over our desire to serve the
Lord to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Servant of the Lord. She
prayed in company with the Apostles in the Upper Room, in the days
leading up to Pentecost. Together with her, let us pray to Christ her
Son: Send forth, O Lord, your Holy Spirit upon the whole Church, that
he may dwell in each of her members and make them heralds of your
Gospel! Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI

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