DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     June 8, 1998     vol. 9, no. 110

THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
    INTRODUCTION
          The Holy Father's Homily on the Holy Spirit below was delivered on Pentecost, 1992 during the Pope's visit to Angola, marking the close of festivities in honor of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of that country. Even though he was speaking to this African nation, what the Vicar of Christ imparts is as applicable, if not more so, to those in the western hemisphere. As timely as ever, Pope John Paul II also calls for a balance to overcome "separation between the Gospel and the life of the Christian" and points out how the Solemnity of Pentecost, as we celebrated a week ago, brings to the forefront how and why the Holy Spirit is so essential in and to our lives.

Without the Light of the HOLY SPIRIT,
No one can say that "JESUS IS LORD."

          "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 Virgin Mary."

          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 world.

          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.


June 8, 1998       volume 9, no. 110
THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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