(Part 179)


May 9, 2016

Today’s reading:  Acts 19:1-8

The Holy Spirit is the agent of evangelization. It is crucial that we know who the Holy Spirit is, what spiritual gifts He imparts, and how His methodology is. But many Catholics today do not really know the Holy Spirit. Just like some disciples during Paul’s time, they might say, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” (v.2b).

It is important to know that faith in Jesus does not automatically mean one is filled with his Spirit. Paul asked the disciples, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” (v.2a). One might believe in Jesus and follow him, but not have the Holy Spirit.

For us Catholics, we become Christians, that is, followers of Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism, then later reinforced in the sacrament of Confirmation. Baptism is intended to wash away original sin. “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). The sacrament of Baptism also imparts the Holy Spirit. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them” (v.5-6a).

So during the times of the early Church, there was the baptism of repentance of John and there was the baptism in the name of Jesus. It was the latter that conferred the Holy Spirit. Today, many Catholics who have been baptized and confirmed do not live out repentance for sin and do not manifest empowerment by the Holy Spirit. Thus there is a need, as adults, to repent and be filled with the Spirit. This happens through a process by which Catholics meet Christ anew and are led to believe in him, repent, and are prayed with for a renewed infilling of the Spirit.

With the infilling of the Spirit come spiritual gifts. “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (v.6). The spiritual gifts are necessary to equip disciples for the work of worldwide evangelization. The Holy Spirit gives boldness and effectiveness to the proclamation of the gospel. “He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.” (v.8).

Such is the work of the New Evangelization.

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