Christians celebrate Pentecost worldwide as Pope Francis calls for their unity and rejection of ideologies

(Photo: Kim Cain)Hands raised at the September Pentecostal World Fellowship conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Pope Francis has called for unity in the church and rejection of the ideologies "that divide and separate us," as he celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the feast of Pentecost, the day many Christians see as the birthday of the Church.

Francis told believers worldwide that "the Holy Spirit is telling the Church that today is the time for comforting," America Magazine reported.

In a sign that the situation has improved in Italy since the COVID-19 pandemic struck more than a year ago, for the first time a large congregation of 1,000 believers from many nationalities, wearing masks and respecting physical distance, participated in the celebration in the basilica on May 23.

The world-famous Sistine Chapel Choir led the singing in Latin at the joy-filled celebration.

"Pentecost (Greek for 50th day) is celebrated by Christians 50 days after Easter, and marks the day that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles while they were cowering and hiding behind locked doors following Jesus' resurrection.," Catholic Outlook in Australia explained.

"After receiving the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately went out and preached Jesus' message to everyone—even those who spoke other languages."

The Pope said, "Jesus offers us heavenly comfort, the Holy Spirit" who is "the love of God," the one "who makes us feel loved for who we are," and "can give peace to our hearts."

He comes down "within the heart," and "does not abandon us; for being present to those who are alone is itself a source of comfort."

Pentecost ranks along with Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus and Easter, commemorating his death an resurrection as the greatest feasts for Christians.

Rev. David Wilson Rogers of the First Christian Church also known as the Disciples of preached in Carlsbad, New Mexico, saying, "Today, as many churches celebrate the day of Pentecost, may we remember what the power of the Holy Spirit is really all about"

"When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting," Rogers said, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

"Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested upon each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."

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