FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
May 15, 2016
1 Corinthians 12:3-13
The New Evangelization is intended to revive and renew our Church during these dark times throughout the whole world. Who can do that? Only God. Only through the Spirit of God. “Send forth your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 104:30).
Now this work is accomplished by the Holy Spirit through human instruments. This is because Jesus uses us to be his witnesses to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. There is no other way. We carry on the very mission of Jesus. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21b). So we in effect do divine work, the very work of God. As such, we cannot do this simply on our own strength. We need a power that is from on high. So Jesus did provide. “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.’” (Jn 20:22).
According to the version of Luke, the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples on the day of Pentecost. When that happened, they were transformed (re-created) from fearful people to become bold proclaimers of the gospel. “And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:4). They were so loud and bold that they attracted a big crowd, those who were pilgrims “from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.” (Acts 2:5). Because the disciples spoke in tongues, the pilgrims heard them in their own native languages. “They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, ‘Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?’” (Acts 2:7-8).
Now take note that what amazed and astounded the pilgrims were the disciples speaking in their own tongues. Tongues is among the spiritual gifts provided by the Holy Spirit in order to empower God’s people to do the work of evangelization. It was a prophetic manifestation of the work of the Spirit that would reach the ends of the earth.
So God assigns us divine work, and for that we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Now such empowerment includes the equipping of God’s people. This is through the provision of spiritual gifts, which are given to each individual. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; … To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12:4,7). Aside from equipping God’s people, the Holy Spirit unites disciples as one, and makes them dependent on each other for the fullness of gifts that are needed to accomplish the work. “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12). Jesus is one, his work is one, his people are one body in him, his mission is one.
Thus we, as the one body of Christ tasked with the one work of mission, need the spiritual gifts provided for the task. But unfortunately, these spiritual gifts are now largely unknown and certainly not availed of, except in charismatic renewal. In fact, in today’s reading, the verses with the listing of gifts is omitted! The gifts connected with Pentecost, with the infilling of the Spirit, with the equipping for mission, are those listed here–the expression of wisdom, the expression of knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8-10).
We need to rediscover the methodology of the Holy Spirit as manifested on the day of Pentecost and the life of the early Church, which became a powerful missionary Church. This is the way of the New Evangelization. This is the way to renewal and revival.
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