2009-10-24 17:08:43

The Holy Spirit and Evangelisation

(October 24, 2009) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus which is the life of the church. Jesus sent this Spirit to us in order to have the fullness of life in Jesus and have it to the full. After the Resurrection Jesus gave his Spirit to the Disciples and sent them out to preach the good news to the whole world and to baptise them all. The spirit will guide them in their task of Evangelisation of the world. Evangelisation is the proclamation of the good news to the humanity. We will examine the role of the Spirit in our life as Evangelisers of the Good News. As the Church celebrates the Mission Sunday in the month of October, let us see how we are spiritually able to collaborate with the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the divine person who eternally co-exists with the Father and the Son. The Spirit was present and active in creation, is seen throughout the Old Testament, and is revealed more explicitly in the New Testament. Life in the Spirit was reflected most clearly in the earthly life of Jesus. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came from God to continue the work of the ascended Christ, as Jesus has promised His followers. The Holy Spirit works in the world, convincing persons of sin and bringing them to repentance and faith; he guides them to fullness of life in Christ. Jesus Christ commissions the church to make disciples of all the world's peoples. The church is called to share the gospel in every culture and stratum of society. Evangelism includes bringing people to a saving faith in Christ and to responsible membership in the church. The people of God are also called to be a redemptive influence in the world, confronting corporate sin and seeking to overcome evil with good. They are to be a voice for righteousness, peace, and justice.
The Holy Spirit is the Counsellor who is always present with God's people and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who guides the believer, and serves as the guarantee of the eternal inheritance promised in Christ. He intercedes for the believers in agreement with God's will. He helps the children of God in their need, cleanses and sets them apart for holy living, and empowers them for service. The Holy Spirit is also present in the corporate life of the church, inspiring unity, worship and service. His presence is realized as the church is open and responsive to the Spirit's leadership. He gives spiritual gifts to all believers according to His sovereign will and purposes. Scripture identifies a variety of gifts, given for the building up of the church and for ministry in the world. The Holy Spirit guides the church in setting apart persons for leadership. The church is responsible to discern and encourage the use of the gifts of the Spirit in its life and ministry.
The word Evangelisation comes to us from ancient history when a slave was chosen to bring back to the ruler the good news of victory in battle. The bearer of this good news was always granted his freedom and so he would come running, nearly dancing for joy, as he bore the good news of victory that would gain freedom for him. So, too, the Christian should proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and his victory over sin and death, the victory that frees men and women to become joyful children of God. In the strict sense, evangelization means the proclamation of the Good News, that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, salvation is offered to the whole world, as a gift of God's grace and mercy. In a broader sense, evangelization means any activity rooted in Christ that promotes the transformation of humanity from within making it new. Essentially, evangelization is bringing others to know the love of Jesus and to experience his healing, forgiving love. Jesus Prepares His own people by giving them his very own Spirit who empowers them to carry out this mission of evangelization. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to unite believers to himself and to one another, forming them into the Community of the Church. By baptism, every believer in Jesus Christ has the call to give authentic witness of a life lived in the world according to the Gospel, and to explicitly proclaim, with humility and the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-5), that salvation is in Jesus Christ. "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age'" (Mt. 28:18ff). Again in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter one says "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth".
Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelization in the Modern World states very clearly to the Catholic Church about its primary mission, namely Evangelization, meaning to proclaim the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. Jesus Christ is the Answer to our deepest needs. He does make a difference in personal life. The fundamental mission of the Church is to proclaim a Person, Jesus Christ, who is the Good News, who is the Gospel. Every believer has this duty and is to do this by lifestyle and by explicit words that result in persons brought to Jesus Christ.
Jesus in his mission on earth proclaims the Kingdom of God. He says in the Gospel of Mark, that the Kingdom of God is at hand. All have to repent and believe and listen to the Good News. There is the urgency in his mission and call and it is immediate. It is not possible to postpone the invitation. Same Jesus after Resurrection gives the Holy Spirit to the Disciples and asks them to Baptise and proclaim the kingdom. This process starts from within by forming ourselves within our own communities by making it a caring, bearing, sharing community whose primary purpose is evangelistic outreach. This will create an environment of evangelisation and build up a process that will lead to inner healing, reconciliation, personal conversion, empowerment and support, and enabling them to live out the Christian mission to witness and disciple others for the Lord Jesus Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit. This process will strengthen us and lead us the spirit of evangelisation.
In a Parish Community our Catholic people must be ready to take on themselves some agreed responsibility for their own self and for the sake of their brothers and sisters in the faith. Small home groups with their intimacy, mutual care, support and discipline are the key to bringing about this shared responsibility. The Lord's desire for his people is that there be a genuine concern for one another, that each person become a caring, bearing, sharing person (Rf. John 15:12, 16f). For Jesus this concern was to build a family, a community that bears his name in the Holy Spirit. The responsibility of caring belongs not just to one person or to a few, but to every member of the community. This requires therefore training as disciples and evangelizers for Jesus Christ; disciples who are rooted in Jesus; persons who so love Jesus that their greatest desire is to bring others into a personal relationship with Jesus so that they, too, might love him deeply. Ultimately this will lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus, with one another and with the outside world.
However Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. It is He who explains to the faithful the deep meaning of the teaching of Jesus and of His mystery. It is the Holy Spirit who, today just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by Him. The Holy Spirit places on their lips the words which the could cannot find by himself, and at the same time the Holy Spirit predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the kingdom of God being proclaimed. Thus the most perfect preparation of the evangelizer has no effect without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic or logic has no power over the heart of man. Without the Spirit the most highly developed programmes resting on a sociological or psychological basis are quickly seen to be quite valueless.
One good tiding that we have is that we live in the Church at a privileged moment of the Spirit. Everywhere people are trying to know Him better, understand him better and pray to him as the Scripture reveals Him to us. People are happy to place themselves under His inspiration and counsel. They are gathering about Him and they are willing to let themselves be led by Him. Now if the Spirit of God has a preeminent place in the whole life of the Church, it is in her evangelizing mission that He is very active. It is not by chance that the great inauguration of evangelization took place on the morning of Pentecost, but under the inspiration and presence of the Holy Spirit. It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is He who compels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is He who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood. Through the Holy Spirit the Gospel penetrates to the heart of the world, for it is He who causes people to discern the signs of the times- signs willed by God- which evangelization reveals and puts to use within history.
We can use an example from the present day situation. This concerns the Middle Eastern Regions. In the last century, oil deposits in the Gulf became a source of light, power and wealth to the impoverished, nomadic Arabs. For thousands of years, prior to that, when oil-wells were not tapped, the Arabs were poor and eked out a miserable living from the desert kingdom. Many cities in the desert now have beautiful gardens, with the money that came from the oil deposits. Sea water could be desalinated. Earth could be brought in by ship loads to transform the land terrain. Gardeners and new techniques of agriculture made all this transformation possible. That is why oil is referred to as 'black gold'. Like the oil wells, the Holy Spirit is an untapped deposit in so many of us as individuals, family, our small Christian community, our parish and the Church at large. Our lives too can become beautiful gardens, if we allow Him to act in and through us. The fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 will be evident in our lives and interactions. We will be attractive to others who are stressed up and whose lives are meaningless or without love. They will meet Jesus through us
If we want our Church to grow, we need to develop a greater communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We should not just preach about him as an experience. We should not just invoke his aid before a meeting and then forget about his presence and guidance while each one tries to get his own hidden agenda across. The Holy Spirit is the principal Agent of Evangelization. Let the anointing of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, confirmation and priesthood be alive in us. Let us all remember that we begin the day welcoming the Spirit and end the day with him thanking him and all our actions go through him during the day. After all we are only his instruments and it is the Spirit is the One who changes hearts. The Holy Spirit is God, a member of the Holy Trinity and is a person and not an impersonal entity. He is an animate object and a known power to be used. We have to allow him to use us for his own work, according to his will. In other words we ask him to make us his active Instruments. God's Word only becomes intelligible to our hearts, when we allow God's Breath to liven it. As a community and as a family we can pray together to him asking him to transform the deserts into gardens bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Jesus will be present in our domestic Churches namely our Families as we gather together in his name. We will be channels of his presence and love to each other, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
In his encyclical on Evangelization Pope Paul VI captured the very heart of evangelization beautifully. He says that the very heart of evangelization is on the Holy Spirit and that there can be no effective evangelization unless mankind is first re-generated from within. He was speaking of the kingdom within manifested through the Spirit. Pope John Paul II says that there can be no evangelization without contemplation. In other words, these two Popes are saying there can be no effective witnessing without Contemplative Spirituality based on the Holy Spirit. Pope John Paul II’s call to a new evangelization is a prophetic and revolutionary calling to the Roman Catholic Church. John Paul II explained that "the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission to the Peoples. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples." The Catholic Church committing all of its energies to a new evangelization and mission to the nations is a radical change in emphasis and we are called upon to enter deep into the spirit of evangelization.
When Pope John Paul II uses the term "a new evangelization" he does not mean a new message. "Evangelization cannot be new in its content since its very theme is always the one gospel given in Jesus Christ." In her writings about evangelization the Church means most fundamentally the proclamation of the basic Christian message: salvation through Jesus Christ. On this foundation of the basic message of eternal life in God, John Paul II extends the notion of evangelization. He notes that there is a diversity of activities in the Church's one mission. He states that evangelization should not be limited to individual unbelievers but also addressed to non-practicing Christians and to entire cultures. There is an important connection between receiving power, evangelizing and changing the world: “New Pentecost, new evangelization; new evangelization, new springtime; new springtime, civilization of love.” Pope Benedict XVI says that “the Spirit never ceases to pour out His abundant gifts, to awaken new vocations and missions and to guide the church, as our Lord promised in this morning’s Gospel, into the fullness of truth.”
“Father, please pour out your Spirit upon me! Holy Spirit, come into my heart! I need your wisdom, guidance, and strength today. I ask you to be present in my thoughts, words, and deeds. Make me more like Jesus. Direct my steps to do only the Father’s will. Give me the courage to share about the Lord’s work in my life, so that others might come to know his love and saving power. Lord Jesus, strengthen the gifts of the Spirit I already have, and give me all the gifts I need to lead others to you. Thank you Lord”

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