The Mdina Cathedral
15th May 2016
Dear President of the Republic, your Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Mr Preca, the Grand President David Rowley, welcome to all. I do not know when was the last time the Cathedral had such distinguished visitors from all over the world. This certainly is a very historic day and it is such an extraordinary thing that you have gathered here from all over the world in the Cathedral of St Paul on the Island of Malta, on the day of Pentecost.
The First Reading (Acts 2, 1-11) has a list of devout Jews who came from all over the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia or land also known today as ISIS unfortunately. There was this unity because they were understanding what the disciples were telling them. There was a common language that they could relate to. Pentecost is the reversal of the image in the Book of Genesis of the tower of Babel and the confusion of so many languages which rather than vehicles of communication become barriers and walls that we raise up not to communicate with each other. Pentecost is the reversal of this phenomenon; it is an invitation to come together to praise the Lord.
In the Gospel (Jn 20, 19-23) which Peter proclaims, the Lord Jesus mentions an advocate: “I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always”. In Greek, the language in which the Gospel was writtten, paráklētos, has the same structure of the Latin advocat, paracletum,somebody who is called to be witness. I don’t know how many lawyers are here today, barristers, or advocates, but the Holy Spirit is called Advocate because he is called to be with me, in other words to be Counsellor. In fact, in so many prayers of the Church he is called Counsellor. And the Lord said: that this gift which comes from the Father to the Son, is also a Divine Person, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity “that is called to be with you always, to be with you always” (cfr Rom 8, 11). He is the guarantee of the Lord’s presence in my life, in your life.
The Advocate, “the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you and remind you”. Thus, we discover that the Holy Spirit is also a teacher; he teaches us how to behave, how to choose rightly, but He is also somebody who reminds us, “he will remind you of all that I told You”. So he is the memory of the Church and the Divine memory of the Christian. What is this fundamental memory? It is the memory of adoption, the fact the we have received a Spirit of adoption to whom we cry “Abbà, Father” (Rom 8,15).We are able to call God ‘Abbà’, Father, daddy, papà, as we have received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption. And it is the antidote of that Spirit which brings us to slavery and to fear, “for you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom 8, 15). These words of St Paul from the letter to the Romans remind us that we have chosen freedom. We have chosen to be children of the Father rather than slaves of sin, of malice and of anger. It is such slavery which brings only fear.
Today, we are thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift that comes from the Father through the Son, a gift that leads us as a deep river flowing towards heaven, who leads us to our home. It is the Spirit that “renews the face of the earth” borrowing the response from Psalm 103. As we prayed in the sequence, the great sequence of Pentecost, we prayed that the Holy Spirit heal our wounds, that he nourishes us with the teaching of Jesus and reminds us that the best choices are those who do with the Lord and in the Lord.
At the prayer of this solemn mass of Pentecost, the Church, every year, asks for the gift of the renewal of Pentecost. “Oh God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast, sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation. Pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and with the Divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers” (the Collect of Pentecost).
Today we pray for a new Pentecost, a new outpouring of the Spirit that brings people from different nations and cultures together, that invites us to witness with courage and fortitude, which gives us the right words that people of different cultures and nations can understand the gift of sobriety and compassion. We pray to the Holy Spirit that we may use our talents, and our skills in order to make this earth a better place than we have found it. We ask forgiveness for all our sins especially the sin of greed, but we ask for the gift of a heart than can intuit and see where there is need, and a heart that has the courage to respond adequately to today’s challenges.
Today we pray for the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for all the Bishops of the holy Church, for priests and deacons, for all religious, and we pray for the laity, for all those marked by the sign of chrism, marked by the sign of the Holy Spirit that we, the Church renewed in this Pentecost with the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit, may be witnesses to the world, that is a wonderful thing to be a Christian, to be a pilgrim, to be a family. I pray for you, dear Catenians, that wherever you come from, you may be that leaven, that light, that salt, that mustard seed that grows, you may be that catch of fish that has all the species of fish and that Peter brings to Jesus’ breakfast on the shores of Galilee, that you may be that little flame of love and wisdom that makes society so much the better for you.
In the name of the Lord, I thank you for your dedication, for your generosity, I pray that you truly be brothers to one another and that you, through your faith and your witness, be a beautiful presence in the world.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta