Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We continue the Encyclical of St. JPII, On the Holy Spirit, this morning with paragraphs 4 and 5 of Part I:
- A little while after the prediction just mentioned Jesus adds: "But the Counselor, 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."19 The Holy Spirit will be the Counselor of the Apostles and the Church, always present in their midst-even though invisible-as the teacher of the same Good News that Christ proclaimed. The words “he will teach” and “bring to remembrance” mean not only that he, in his own particular way, will continue to inspire the spreading of the Gospel of salvation but also that he will help people to understand the correct meaning of the content of Christ’s message; they mean that he will ensure continuity and identity of understanding in the midst of changing conditions and circumstances. The Holy Spirit, then, will ensure that in the Church there will always continue the same truth which the Apostles heard from their Master.
- In transmitting the Good News, the Apostles will be in a special way associated with the Holy Spirit. This is how Jesus goes on: "When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning."20
Apostles were the direct eyewitnesses. They “have heard” and “have seen with their own eyes,” “have looked upon” and even “touched with their hands” Christ, as the evangelist John says in another passage.21 This human, first-hand and “historical” witness to Christ is linked to the witness of the Holy Spirit: “He will bear witness to me.” In the witness of the Spirit of truth, the human testimony of the Apostles will find its strongest support. And subsequently it will also find therein the hidden foundation of its continuation among the generations of Christ’s disciples and believers who succeed one another down through the ages.
The supreme and most complete revelation of God to humanity is Jesus Christ himself, and the witness of the Spirit inspires, guarantees and convalidates the faithful transmission of this revelation in the preaching and writing of the Apostles,22 while the witness of the Apostles ensures its human expression in the Church and in the history of humanity.
My husband and I had the great privilege of making a 45 day Retreat on the Gospel of John. The priest who led the retreat was the one who helped me to understand the importance of listening to Scripture and to the “witness” of John as one who “heard” and “saw” and even touched" Christ. Father Bill helped me understand, as Pope St. John points out so well, that the testimony of John and the other witnesses is linked to the witness of the Holy Spirit: “He will bear witness to me”. In the witness of the Spirit of Truth, the human testimony of the Apostles will find its strongest support. It will find therein the hidden foundation of its continuation among generations of Christ’s disciples and believers who succeed one another down through the ages.
If we are to continue the Mission of Christ in this world, if we are to be His witnesses today, we too need to be linked to the Holy Spirit and to the first witnesses we hear in the New Testament. We need to listen carefully and prayerfully as Pope St John did!