The Holy Spirit Sends Us to Proclaim the Gospel
by Pope John Paul II
Spirit Sends us to Proclaim the Gospel
1. "When the Counselor comes, Whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth Who Proceeds
from the Father, He will Bear Witness to Me" (John 15:26). These are the words that the Evangelist John
received from Christ's Lips in the Upper Room, during the Last Supper on the Eve of
His Passion. Today they Resound with Remarkable
Intensity for us on Pentecost of this Jubilee Year, whose Deepest Meaning they Reveal.
To understand this Essential Message, one must Remain in the Upper Room, as the Disciples did. This is why the
Church, through a Fitting Selection of Liturgical Texts, has
remained in the Upper Room throughout the Easter Season.
This evening, Saint Peter's Square is Transformed into a vast Upper Room in
which our Community has Gathered to Pray for and to
Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, reminded us of what happened in
Jerusalem Fifty (50) Days after Easter.
Before Ascending into Heaven, Christ had Entrusted a Great Task to the Apostles:
"Go ... and make Disciples of all Nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit ... Teaching them to Observe all that I have Commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
He had also Promised that after His Departure,
they would Receive "Another Counselor" Who would
Teach them all things (cf. John 14:16, 26).
The Church Knows She must Proclaim the Gospel to all
This Promise was Fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost: the
Spirit, Descending upon the Apostles, gave them the Necessary Light and
Strength to Teach the Nations and to Proclaim Christ's
Gospel to them all. In this Way, the Church was Born and Lives in the
Fruitful Tension between the Upper Room and the World, between Prayer and Proclamation.
2. When He Promised the Holy Spirit, the
Lord Jesus had Spoken of Him as the
"Counselor" and "Paraclete" Whom
He would Send from the Father (cf. John 15:26).
He had Spoken of Him as the
"Spirit of Truth" Who would Guide the
Church into all the Truth (16:13).
He had Explained that the Holy Spirit
would Bear-Witness to Him (cf. John 15:26), but had immediately added:
"And you also are Witnesses, because you have been with Me from the Beginning" (John
15:27). Now that the Spirit Descends on the Community gathered in the Upper Room on
Pentecost, this Twofold Witness begins:
that of the Holy Spirit and
that of the Apostles.
The Witness of the Spirit is Divine in
Itself: It comes from the Depth of the Trinitarian
Mystery. The Apostles' Witness is Human: It Transmits, in the Light of Revelation,
their Experience-of-Life with Jesus. In Laying the Foundations of the
Church, Christ attaches Great Importance to the Human Witness of the
Apostles. He wants the Church to Live by the
Historical Truth of His Incarnation, so that
through the Work of Witnesses, the Memory of His Death on the
Cross and of His Resurrection may always be
Alive and in Her.
Dialogue opens the way to more Effective Proclamation
3. "And you also are Witnesses (John 15:27). Enlivened by the
Gift of the Spirit, the Church has always been Keenly Aware of this Duty,
and has Faithfully Proclaimed the Gospel Message in every Time and Place.
She has done so with Respect for the Dignity of Peoples, of their Culture, of their Traditions. Indeed,
She knows quite well that the Divine Message entrusted
to Her is not Hostile to the Deepest Human Aspirations; indeed,
It was Revealed by God to Satisfy, beyond every Expectation, the
Hunger and Thirst of the Human Heart. For this very Reason, the
Gospel must not be Imposed, but Proposed, because
It can only be Effective if It is
Freely-Accepted and Lovingly Embraced.
As happened in Jerusalem on the First Pentecost,
in every Age, Christ's Witnesses, filled-with the Holy
Spirit, have felt Impelled to Reach-out to others in order to Express in Various Languages, the Marvels
God has Accomplished. This continues to happen in our Time as well, and is the Emphasis of this Jubilee Day
dedicated to "Reflection on the Duties of Catholics towards others: Proclamation of Christ, Witness and
The Reflection we are invited to make cannot fail to dwell, above all, on the Work which the Holy
Spirit Carries-out in Individuals and in Communities. It is the Holy Spirit Who
Scatters the "Seeds of the Word" in the various Customs and Cultures, Preparing the Peoples of the
most Varied Regions to Accept the Gospel Message. This Awareness cannot Fail to Instill in
Christ's Disciples an Attitude of Openness and Dialogue towards those with Different Religious
Convictions. Indeed, it is only Right to listen to what the Spirit can also Suggest to
"Others". They can offer Useful Hints for Reaching a Deeper Understanding of what the
Christian already Possesses in the "Revealed Deposit".
Dialogue can thus Open the Way to a Proclamation which is Better Suited to the Personal Conditions of the Listener.
4. However, if the Proclamation is to be Effective, a Lived Witness remains Crucial. Only the Believer who Lives what he Professes with
his Lips, has any Hope of being Heard. One must Bear in Mind that Circumstances, at times, do not Permit an Explicit Proclamation of
Jesus Christ as Lord and
Savior of all. It is then that the Witness of a Life that is Respectful, Chaste, detached from Riches and Free from
the Powers of this World, in a word, the Witness of Holiness, can Reveal all its Convincing Power,
even if Offered in Silence.
It is also clear that our Firmness in being Witnesses of Christ by the Power of the
Holy Spirit does not Prevent us from Collaborating in the Service of Man with those
who belong to other Religions. On the contrary, it prompts us to Work Together with them for the Good of Society and Peace in the World.
At the Dawn of the Third Millennium, Christ's
Disciples are Fully Aware that this World appears as "a Map of Various Religions";
Hominis, n.11). If the Church's Children know how to remain open to the
Holy Spirit's Action, He will Help them
Communicate Christ's One (1),
Universal Saving Message in a way that Respects the Religious Convictions of others.
5. "He will Bear Witness to Me; and you also are Witnesses, because you have been with Me from the
Beginning" (John 15:26-27). The Whole Logic of Revelation
and the Faith by which the Church Lives,
is contained in these words: The Witness of the Holy Spirit, which Flows from the Depth of
the Trinitarian Mystery of
God, and the Human Witness of the Apostles, linked to their Historical Experience of
Christ. Both are necessary. To be more precise, it is a Single (1) Witness:
it is the Spirit Who continues to speak to our
Contemporaries in the Language and Life of those who are Christ's Disciples Today.
We thank God for the Witness of Martyrs and Confessors
On the day when we Celebrate the Memorial of the Church's Birth, we want to Express
Heartfelt Gratitude to God for this Twofold,
and Ultimately One (1), Witness, which has involved the Great Family of the
Church since the Day of Pentecost. We want to
Give-Thanks for the Witness of the First Community of Jerusalem which, through the Generations
of Martyrs and Confessors, has become the Inheritance of Countless Men and Women down the Ages
around the World.
Encouraged by the Memory of the First Pentecost,
the Church today Eagerly Awaits a Fresh Outpouring-of the
Holy Spirit. Devoted with One (1) Accord to
Prayer with Mary, the Mother
of Jesus, she never Ceases to Cry-out:
"Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and Renew the Face of the Earth" (cf. Psalm 103:30).
Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit, Kindle in the Hearts
of Your Faithful the Fire of Your Love!
Sancte Spiritus, veni!
- End of Pope John Paul II's Pentecost Homily for 2000 -
"We Love Jesus Christ in His Church, because She is His Immaculate Spouse, Who came out of His Opened Side
on the Cross, just as Eve came out of the first Adam"
Saint Eugene de Mazenod
Pentecost is Traditionally considered to be the Birthday-of the
Church, which is Christ's One
(1) and only Bride. However, the above Quote by Saint Eugene-de-Mazenod sheds
additional Light on the Subject. Actually, the Birth of the Church
Commenced on Good Friday, when the Side (Heart)
of Jesus was Pierced with a Lance, and Water and Blood Flowed-Forth for the
Salvation of all Mankind. This Concept is Eloquently Explained below by the Great Doctor-of-the-Church, Saint John
Chrysostom. The Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Soul of the
Church, Fifty (50) days after
Easter, on the Feast-of Pentecost, Concluded the
Birth (Fashioning) of Christ's Immaculate Spouse, the
Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side
Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side
"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is
Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist.
Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church,
as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church