Pope at Mass in Verona: 'The Holy Spirit changes our lives’

Pope Francis presides at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost in Verona highlighting the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, and encouraging Christians to be open to letting the Spirit change their hearts.

May 20, 2024

By Linda Bordoni
Speaking during his homily at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost in the Bentegodi Stadium in Verona, Pope Francis reflected on the centrality and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians.

Who is the Holy Spirit?
In his unscripted homily, the Pope began by recounting a story from the Acts of the Apostles where Paul visits a Christian community and asks, "Have you received the Holy Spirit?" The community’s response he said was telling: "What is the Holy Spirit?"

This lack of understanding, he continued, mirrors the understanding of many modern Christians: "I think that today, if I ask many Christian communities who the Holy Spirit is, they wouldn’t know how to respond."

The protagonist of our lives
The Holy Spirit, the Pope said is the "protagonist of our lives."

"The Holy Spirit is the one who moves us forward, who helps us progress, who enables us to develop Christian life."

He said that this gift was received through baptism and is further strengthened by confirmation. Yet, he added, challenged those present: "Do I listen to the Holy Spirit within me?"

Courage and transformation
Reflecting on Pentecost, the Pope recalled the apostles as being initially fearful and hidden behind closed doors. However, he said, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, they were transformed: "The Holy Spirit came, changed their hearts, and they went out to preach with courage."

This courage, he continued, is not just for the apostles but for all Christians.

"The Holy Spirit gives us the courage to live the Christian life, and for this reason, with this courage, it changes our lives," and he encouraged the faithful to "Listen to the Spirit, pray to the Spirit, and if it’s Him changing your life, trust the Spirit."

Harmony and unity
Another vital aspect Pope Francis addressed was the role of the Holy Spirit in fostering harmony and unity.

Saying that on Pentecost, people of all nations, languages, and cultures were present, he said the Holy Spirit "builds the Church" by bringing them together.

However, he clarified, "Does it make everyone the same? No, all different, but with one heart, with love that unites us."

Call to action
Throughout his “conversational” homily during which he asked direct questions to the congregation and encouraged them to engage with him, Pope Francis concluded with a call to embrace the Holy Spirit’s power to bring about personal and communal transformation.

First, he recalled an exchange with an elderly person:

"Father I’m 90 years old, I can’t change.”

“But how many days of life do you have left?”

“I don’t know.”

“With just one day the Spirit can change your life, can change your heart."

And then he pointed out that harmony is the opposite of war:

"The opposite of harmony is war, it’s fighting against each other. And when there’s war, when we fight against each other, is it the Spirit doing this yes or no? No! The Spirit creates harmony."--Vatican News

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