Saint John Paul II’s Pentecost

Pope St. John Paul II

Homily of His Holiness John Paul II

Sunday, 31 May 1998, The Solemnity of Pentecost

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem:I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.

With the words of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Church proclaims her faith in the Paraclete; a faith that is born of theapostolic experience of Pentecost. The passage from the Acts of the Apostles, which today’s liturgy has offered for our meditation, recalls in fact the marvels worked on the day of Pentecost, when with great astonishment the Apostles saw Jesus’ words come true. As was mentioned in the passage from St John’s Gospel proclaimed a few moments ago, on the eve of his Passion he had assured them: “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever” (Jn 14:16). This “Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26).

And the Holy Spirit, coming down upon them with extraordinary power, enabled them to proclaim the teaching of Christ Jesus to the whole world. Their courage was so great, their determination so sure, that they were prepared to do anything, even to give up their life. The gift of the Spirit had released their deepest energies, concentrating them on the mission entrusted to them by the Redeemer. And it will be the Counsellor, the Parakletos, who will guide them in preaching the Gospel to all. The Spirit will teach them the whole truth, drawing it from the wealth of Christ’s word, so that, in turn, they may communicate it to people in Jerusalem and the rest of the world.

How can we not give thanks to God for the wonders the Spirit has never ceased to accomplish in these two millenniums of Christian life? Indeed, the event of grace at Pentecost has continued to bear its marvellous fruits, everywhere instilling apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to live and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication. Today too, the Spirit sustains great and small acts of forgiveness and prophecy in the Church and gives life to ever new charisms and gifts, which attest to his ceaseless action in human hearts.

An eloquent proof of this is today’s solemn liturgy attended by a vast number of those belonging to movements and new communities, who in these days have held their World Congress in Rome. Yesterday, in this same St Peter’s Square, we enjoyed an unforgettable, festive gathering with songs, prayers and testimonies. We experienced the atmosphere of Pentecost which made visible in a way the Spirit’s inexhaustible fruitfulness in the Church. The movements and new communities, providential expressions of the new springtime brought forth by the Spirit with the Second Vatican Council, announce the power of God’s love which in overcoming divisions and barriers of every kind, renews the face of the earth to build the civilization of love.

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