Reflection from the ‘Soul Institute’ Holy Spirit is the Soul of Evangelization

Pope Francis writes, ” Whenever we say that something is ‘spirited’, it usually refers to some interior impulse which encourages, motivates, nourishes, and gives meaning to our individual and communal activity. Spirit-filled evangelization is not the same as a set of tasks dutifully carried out despite one’s own personal inclinations or wishes. How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love, and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our heart.”

Paul VI in ‘On Evangelization in the Modern World’ writes, “Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descends on Jesus of Nazareth at the moment of His baptism when the voice of the Father says, ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.’ manifests in an external way the election of Jesus and His Mission. Jesus is ‘led by the Spirit’ to experience in the desert the decisive combat that the supreme test before beginning this mission. It is ‘in the the power of the Spirit’ that He returns to Galilee and begins His preaching at Nazareth, applying to Himself the passage of Isaiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.’ And He proclaim: ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled.’ To the disciples whom He was about to send forth He say, breathing on them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ In fact, it is only after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that the apostles depart to all the ends of the earth in order to begin the great word of the Church’s evangelization. Peter explains this event as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel: ‘I will pour out my spirit.’ Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit so that he can speak to the people about Jesus, the Son of God. Paul too is filled with the Holy Spirit before dedicating himself to his apostolic ministry, as is Stephen when he is chosen for the ministry of service and later on for the witness of blood. The Spirit who causes Peter, Paul and the Twelve to speak, and who inspires the words that they are to utter, also came down ‘on those who heard the words,’ It is in the consolation of the Holy Spirit that the Church increases. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. It is He who explains to the faithful the deep meaning of the teaching of Jesus and of His mystery. It is the Holy Spirit who, today just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by Him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself, and at the same time the Holy Spirit predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the Kingdom being proclaimed. Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced one could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit. The most perfect preparation of the evangelizers has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the most convincing dialectic has no power over the heart of man. Without Him the most highly developed schemas resting on a sociological or psychological basis are quickly seen to be quite valueless. We live in the Church at a privileged moment of the Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit is the soul of evangelization. I remember the first mass that I celebrated at my home church after my ordination. It was Pentecost Sunday. I remember feeling and experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit as I preached the Word of God. I knew that the words were anointed by the Holy Spirit. The good news is that every Sunday is in a certain sense Pentecost Sunday.

John Paul II wrote in, ‘On Keeping the Lord’s Day’, Sunday, the day of light, could also be called the day of ‘fire’, in reference to the Holy Spirit. The light of Christ is intimately linked to the ‘fire’ of the Spirit…The weekly Easter’ thus becomes the ‘weekly Pentecost; when Christian relive the Apostles’ joyful encounter with the Risen Lord and receive the life-giving breath of the Spirit.” 

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