By Sarah Mac Donald - 01 June, 2020
Pope Francis has said the world needs to be united in facing the many pandemics that are spreading, including “hunger, war, contempt for life and indifference to others” as well as the COVID-19 virus.
In his video message for the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ movement, Pope Francis contrasted God “infecting” the world with life at Pentecost to the “deadly” coronavirus that has ravaged the world in recent months.
The Pope recorded the video message for broadcast on Sunday as part of the Pentecost service of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Right Reverend Justin Welby.
‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is an annual global ecumenical prayer movement promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Last year, Pope Francis recorded an impromptu video message at the invitation of Archbishop Welby during a gathering organised in the Vatican for the political and religious leaders of South Sudan.
In this year’s message, Pope Francis noted that on the day of Pentecost, people who spoke different languages assembled and encountered each other. But over the past number of months people have been required to keep their distance from one another due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Still, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, assures us of God’s closeness and gives us the consolation that brings strength even amid suffering.”
The Pope also expressed the desire that Christians would be more deeply united as “witnesses of mercy” for the human family in a world experiencing a “famine of hope.”
He prayed that, through the Holy Spirit who bestows wisdom and good counsel, those charged with making decisions may be inspired to “defend human life and the dignity of work.”
Pope Francis warned that people have been “isolated and anaesthetised before the cry of the poor and the devastation of our planet” and he prayed that, prompted by the Spirit, they may see the need to “turn back to God and our neighbour”.
In Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin prayed that as the restrictions continue and many people remain isolated, the Holy Spirit would bestow its seven gifts.
Among these, the Archbishop prayed for the gift of Wisdom to help people learn life-long lessons from the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr Martin said in his reflection that the Holy Spirit brings the gift of Understanding. Noting the prevalence of statistics, economic forecasts, ‘R numbers’ and science, he said “The Spirit invites us to make personal sacrifices on the understanding that we are protecting health and saving lives. We deny ourselves for the sake of those who are most vulnerable and for the Common Good.”
“As we reflect wisely on all that is happening, we get to know what God is asking of us at this time. These days of seclusion are opportunities to grow in our love of God. By prayer and reflection on God’s Word we can gain insight and self-knowledge to evaluate our lives in relation to God and in relation to others.”
In Kilkenny, Bishop Dermot Farrell of Ossory celebrated Mass for Pentecost on KCLR96fm and told his congregation, “It is the Holy Spirit who thrusts ‘us out of our ecclesiastical nest into mission’.”
He said this Pentecost Sunday, the Word of God “calls us to reflect on the role of the Spirit in the missionary work of the early Christian community and in the life of the Church today”.
Dr Farrell stressed that the change occasioned by the Spirit “comes from within. It is gentle and organic, not some violence visited on us from beyond. It is patient, it waits — it stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). It knocks so gently that it can only be heard in silence; only in silence is heard the beating of the heart of God.”
Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv