"Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 103:30).
This cry of the Psalmist of the Old Testament is fulfilled on the day of
Pentecost. On that day the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room in
Jerusalem "were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Act 2:3). This occurred
in an invisible manner, but it was accompanied by external signs. It was
the sign of the driving wind and the fire: "Suddenly there came from the
sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in
which they were" (Acts 2:2). And, at the same time "there appeared to them
tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them"
(Acts 2:3). Filled with the Holy Spirit, (they) began to speak in
different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim" (Acts 2:4).
The Church was born in the gift of tongues. The languages signified the
multiplicity and variety of peoples who, during the course of centuries,
would enter into the same community of Christ's Church.
"Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?" (Acts
2:8), asked the pilgrims present outside the Upper Room who had come to
Jerusalem to participate in the feast. The Acts of the Apostles indicate
by name the inhabitants of the places who participated directly in the
birth of the Church and the work of the breath of the Holy Spirit. They
all said: "We hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of
God" (Acts 2:11).
"The mighty acts of God" (Acts 2:11).
Pentecost began in the Upper Room in Jerusalem where, after Christ's
crucifixion and burial, His disciples remained, gripped by a great fear.
On the afternoon of Easter they were there, afraid and confused.
Suddenly, "the mighty acts of God" took place: Jesus came into their
midst: Jesus alive. The Apostles were convinced that He was truly risen,
as the women had already told them that morning, after they had found that
the place where He had been buried was empty.
Christ is risen. He is in their midst and says: "Peace be with you"
(John20: 21). He speaks because He is in fact risen. He is the same
Person Who had been crucified and laid in the tomb; then He shows them His
hands and the side pierced upon the cross.
Christ then said to His Apostles, "As the Father has sent Me, so I send
you" (John 20:21). After these words He breathed upon them, saying:
"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and
whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20: 22-23).
What would take place on the day of Pentecost had its beginning in the
Upper Room in Jerusalem on the day of the Resurrection. These are
precisely "the mighty acts of God": redemption through the cross of Christ
and the birth of the new people in the Church of God through the
sanctifying breath of the Spirit, the Paraclete.
Without the help of the Holy Spirit no one can say: "Jesus is Lord" (1 Cor
12:3). "Jesus is Lord", crucified and risen, Who with the Father and in
unity with the Holy Spirit receives the same honor and glory: "God from
God, Light from Light" (Creed). Jesus Christ, "Who for us and for our
salvation was made man by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the
In His name, through the invisible action of the Holy Spirit, the sins of
man are pardoned, first of all through Baptism and then through the
sacrament of Penance and reconciliation.
The new evangelization needs a new Christian initiation which, beginning
with the first proclamation of salvation in Christ, the kerygma, and
through a well-structured catechumenate, accompanies the steps, the
journey, of those who have embraced the faith, who have been converted to
Christ and have received the sacraments in order to live the newness of the
Gospel, that is, a new life.
However, there is no new life in Christ without a "new manner of
existence, a new way of life, of communal life, which the Gospel
inaugurates" (Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 23). It is necessary to overcome the
dichotomy, the separation between the Gospel and the life of the Christian.
In order for this to happen, greater attention must be given to the
evangelization and catechesis of adults, to the formation of true Christian
families and small ecclesial communities, those instruments of Christian
formation and missionary outreach, in the large cities, too (cf.
Redemptoris missio, n. 51).
We give thanks today to God for Baptism. "For in one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13). This body is Christ's Church in
which we seek the communion of saints for all eternity.
Here, however, in saying together that "Jesus is Lord", we receive from
the same Holy Spirit "different kinds of service" (1 Cor 12: 4-5). In this
diversity the one Lord is manifest, "one God, Who produces all of them in
everyone" (1 Cor 12:6). Many people and many ways of acting bring about
the "benefit of salvation" (1 Cor 12: 7) in which the Holy Spirit
manifests Himself. Thus Pentecost always continues in the Church in this
Now taking into consideration the new phase that awaits you, Christians, I
cannot fail too urge you to make a renewed commitment to evangelization,
one which involves all the Church's forces.The laity have the enormous
task of being the living leaven of the Gospel in all the structures of
(your) country's social, economic and political life. Not only the Church,
but (your) whole country also needs you for its reconstruction, which will
not be - nor can it be - purely material and economic, but fist and
foremost moral and spiritual. The great task of promoting the dignity and
rights of men and women awaits you; so does the protection of human life in
all its phases, from conception to natural death; activity on behalf of
family, threatened by ideologies and campaigns which harm its unity and
indissolubility; active participation in (your) nation's political life in
order to build a freer society in justice and solidarity; social
communication, whose media today must be the Gospel's preferred way for
spreading a Christian culture and a civilization of love.
In concluding - "How manifold are Your works, O Lord! The earth is full of
Your creatures. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and You
renew the face of the earth. May the Glory of the Lord endure forever; may
the Lord be glad in His works" (Psalm 103: 1,24,30-31)).
Peace is with you. Amen.