THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
The key to massive worldwide evangelization is the Holy Spirit.
Empowerment to be witnesses to the ends of the earth is from
the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Since the Church is a missionary
Church and is called to missio ad gentes, and since
we are all to participate in the Church’s life and mission,
then we are all called to live a life in the Holy Spirit.
Entry into the life in the Holy Spirit is through baptism
in the Spirit (Acts 1:5). Baptism in the Spirit confers spiritual
gifts that are intended to build community for the work of
evangelization. Baptism in the Spirit results in charismatic
can see all these in the life of the early Church from the
day of Pentecost. Unfortunately, through the centuries as
the Church evolved and necessarily had to put in structures
and strictures, the free blowing of the Holy Spirit became
more restricted. Eventually the Church, still and always the
body of Christ on earth, became more corporate and organizational.
Sin came back with a vengeance. There had been bad popes.
In recent years we saw the widespread sex abuse among clerics.
Nuns shed their habits and became liberal. Lay Catholics left
the Church and became nominal in their faith.
renewal came to the Catholic Church in 1975, and brought restoration
and renewal. Then, for the work of the third millennium, the
Lord raised new ecclesial movements, many of them charismatic.
Now we are all called to the New Evangelization. For New Evangelization
to happen, we need to rediscover the “formula”
and “methodology” for massive worldwide evangelization.
We look to Pentecost and the experience of the early Church
as recorded in the book of Acts. At the center of it all is
the Holy Spirit at work. We need to be filled with the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2:4a).
What is the work of the Holy Spirit?
gave “instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles
whom he had chosen.” (Acts 1:2). Jesus continues to
guide us today through his Spirit. Jesus’ final instructions
were to “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel
to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). It is the Holy Spirit
who enables and empowers us to do that.
proclaim Christ so that people might meet Christ. But there
are those who have met him but continue not to know him. Why?
Because they do not know the Bible. St Jerome says that ignorance
of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Now it is the Holy
Spirit who speaks through the Bible. “My brothers, the
scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke
beforehand through the mouth of David” (Acts 1:16a).
We must read, meditate on, and study the Bible. The Holy Spirit
grants us the grace for that.
be effective witnesses, we must be growing in holiness. To
grow in holiness we need to have a deep personal relationship
with God, including coming before Him in worship with awe.
It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to engage in deep worship,
in ecstatic prayer in praise of God. “And they were
all filled with the holy Spirit, and began to speak in different
tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts
Church is called to missio ad gentes. It is the Holy
Spirit who gives instructions for worldwide mission (see Acts
13:2). It is the Holy Spirit who sends (Acts 13:4a, 20:22a).
It is also the Holy Spirit who restricts mission if need be
(see Acts 16:6-7).
is the Holy Spirit that gives gifts in order to build community,
which will then do worldwide mission. “There are different
kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit” (1 Cor
12:4). “To each individual the manifestation of the
Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12:7). “But
one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing
them individually to each person as he wishes.” (1 Cor
12:11). Notice that each person is to receive at least one
gift. This enables all to participate in the life and mission
of the Church.
for mission comes from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). We are
empowered to witness. But the Holy Spirit not only empowers
us, but witnesses with us. “We are witnesses of these
things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those
who obey him.” (Acts 5:32).
in mission comes from the Holy Spirit. The disciples “were
all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the
word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31b).
is our faith in Jesus that drives us to proclaim him to all.
Faith and the Holy Spirit go together. Stephen was “a
man filled with faith and the holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5b).
Barnabas was “filled with the holy Spirit and faith.”
tells us to rejoice always, even as he did in the midst of
trials and tribulations. This can only happen with the Holy
Spirit. Joy and the Holy Spirit go together. “The disciples
were filled with joy and the holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52).
ultimate witness is martyrdom. It is the Holy Spirit who gives
us the grace and strength for martyrdom. Right before being
stoned to death, Stephen, “filled with the holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and
Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).
Holy Spirit guides the Church in making major decisions (see
Acts 15:28). Now the Holy Spirit has caused the Church, through
the popes, to issue a prophetic call to the New Evangelization.
It is unfortunate that in our Church today, the role of the
Holy Spirit in evangelization and mission is generally unknown.
If one does not know why there is a Holy Spirit, then one
does not know the Holy Spirit. The situation seems like that
of the Ephesians. “We have never even heard that there
is a holy Spirit.” (Acts 19:2b).
is unfortunate that Catholics today by and large are unaware
of the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit, which are
intended to build community (see 1 Cor 12) for the purpose
of worldwide evangelization. If one does not know these gifts,
then one cannot look to them, and if one does not look to
them, then how can one participate in the massive work to
be done? The situation would be like that of the Corinthians,
when Paul told them, “Now in regard to spiritual gifts,
brothers, I do not want you to be unaware.” (1 Cor 12:1).
Unfortunately, most Catholics, and not just the lapsed ones,
is unfortunate that most Catholics do not know the gift of
tongues. Paul said, “Now I should like all of you to
speak in tongues” (1 Cor 14:5a). But very few Catholics
do so. Tongues is a major manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the
disciples, they “began to speak in different tongues”
(Acts 2:4). When the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his
household, they were “speaking in tongues and glorifying
God.” (Acts 10:46). When the Holy Spirit came upon the
Ephesians on whom Paul laid his hands, “they spoke in
tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6).
are we to proceed with the New Evangelization? We need to
meet Christ, to live Christ, and to share Christ. For that
to happen, we need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and
enter into the wonderful world of a life in the Holy Spirit.
Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, we can go and fulfill the
Great Commission of Jesus.