(Part 222)


May 29, 2017

Today’s reading:  Acts 19:1-8

The work of evangelization is the work of the Holy Spirit. This is even more crucial now that we are called to the New Evangelization.

Paul asked the disciples in Ephesus, “‘Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They answered him, ‘We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.’” (v.2). Today Catholics have heard about the Holy Spirit, but many do not know His role in evangelization. Many do not understand the methodology of Pentecost by which the Church can do rapid and massive evangelization. Many are unaware of the spiritual gifts provided to the body in order to effectively do mission.

In fact, Catholics receive the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. But for most, their experience falls short of the fullness of God’s intent for His people. They in effect undergo “the baptism of John.” (v.3b). Paul describes this as follows, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” (v.4). Thus people are led to repentance and to faith in Jesus. But that is just the first step. Unfortunately for many, instead of building up from that, it often is downhill from then.

So there is more. It is the baptism in the Spirit. “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them” (v.6a). While we do receive the Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, there is a need for an adult experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Such baptism in the Spirit also confers spiritual gifts (different from the traditional 7 gifts of the Spirit), by which God’s people can more effectively do the work of evangelization and mission. Thus, “they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (v.6b). Where in the Church today, aside from charismatic renewal, do we use the gifts of tongues and prophecy, aside from the other gifts conferred by the Spirit?

The baptism in the Spirit is critical to effective and fruitful evangelization. This is so God’s people can speak “boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.” (v.8b). This was the way after Pentecost. This is the way for the New Evangelization.

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