FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
HAVE YOU RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT?
May 13, 2013
Today’s reading: Acts 19:1-8
All Catholics have been sacramentally baptized, by which they receive the Holy Spirit. The problem with many Catholics today is that they are unaware of the importance and action of the Holy Spirit in their lives. For all practical purposes, Catholics might as well say, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2b).
Why are many (even most) Catholics, who have been sacramentally baptized and sacramentally confirmed, not acting as true Christians in the world today? They do not really know Christ (have a personal relationship with him), they certainly are not living Christ (being holy), and they most certainly are not sharing Christ (evangelizing).
What needs to happen? It all starts with repentance and faith. “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.” (Acts 19:4). People need to turn away from their old lives, and start to live a new life in Christ.
With Baptism (and later Confirmation), people receive the Holy Spirit. This is empowerment for worldwide mission. But why are the great majority of Catholics not really into evangelization? It is because they do not know the Holy Spirit, and they do not know what they have been called to do in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, the call to the New Evangelization necessitates a renewed understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit, followed by prayers for a renewed infilling of the Spirit, to manifest a renewed outpouring of the Spirit. Catholics once again need to experience the so-called baptism in the Spirit. As in the case of the Ephesian believers, “when Paul laid his hands on them, the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6). This was a common experience of the early Christians, starting with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. How many Catholics today speak in tongues and prophesy? Do the majority of Catholics even know about the gifts of tongues and prophecy?
With the baptism in the Spirit comes boldness and power. Paul “debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 19:8b). Catholics need to do so as well. Catholics need to go forth into the world and proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. Every Catholic is commissioned to be an evangelizer.
And so I ask you, “Did you receive the holy Spirit when you became believers?” (Acts 19:2). Indeed you did. Now act on that reality.
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