A RETURN TO PENTECOST
Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013
Today’s readings: Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104:1,24,29-30,31,34; 1 Cor 12:3-13; Jn 20:19-23
The New Evangelization is about a return to the ways by which the Church and Jesus’ disciples are empowered to evangelize, which ways are unfortunately unknown to many Catholics today, and much of which are no longer operative in the Church.
It starts with Jesus’ own commissioning. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21b). God sent Jesus into the world in order to save us, through his sacrificial death on the cross. Now Jesus has gone to heaven, but the work of salvation continues, as the good news of salvation in Jesus needs to be proclaimed, so that those who hear may believe and accept Jesus as Lord. So Jesus in turn sends us. We are to continue his divine work, that of bringing people to salvation in him. Are Catholics even aware of such commissioning?
Then it is accompanied by equipping and empowering. God does not send us out to do such a critical work only to have us depend on our own resources. That would be a sure way to failure. We humans on our own are not able to confront and overcome a powerful supernatural enemy. To do God’s work needs God’s strength. To defeat a strong man needs a stronger man. Thus Jesus equips us. “Receive the holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:22b). Are Catholics living lives empowered by the Spirit?
When the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, it was a spectacular event–a noise like a strong driving wind, tongues as of fire, speaking in different tongues (Acts 2:2-4). The rush of a strong driving wind signified a new action of God in the history of salvation. Tongues of fire signified the presence of God, preparing the apostles to proclaim the new covenant in Jesus. Speaking in tongues signified the worldwide mission of the Church. Do Catholics still experience such vigorous action and vibrant presence of God?
How does the Holy Spirit equip God’s people? Among others, it is through the charismatic gifts–wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8-10). Every individual is given at least one such gift (1 Cor 12:7). Do Catholics today know of, understand, or use such spiritual gifts?
In order to do the work of the New Evangelization, we need:
* to know that we are called and commissioned, and to respond accordingly;
* to be equipped and empowered by and through the Holy Spirit;
* to be baptized in the Spirit, as happened on Pentecost;
* to understand and make use of charismatic gifts.
Unless the above happen, there can be no New Evangelization. There may still be various works of evangelization, but devoid of real power as intended and provided for by God. Without Pentecost power and proper equipment including charismatic gifts, there can be no enduring massive evangelization or vibrant revival in the Church. Without a renewed infilling of the Spirit upon individual Catholics that results in a renewed outpouring of the Spirit through the work of the whole Church, there will be a lack of faithful witnesses to be sent to the ends of the earth.
God has provided everything needed. The Church has sounded the call to the New Evangelization. Let us respond, as we continue to pray, “Send forth your spirit …. and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 104:30).
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)