Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We continue JPII’s Encyclical, Part II, Section 2, paragraph 30:
2. The Testimony of the Day of Pentecost
- Christ’s prophecies in the farewell discourse found their most exact and direct confirmation on the day of Pentecost, in particular the prediction which we are dealing with: “The Counselor…will convince the world concerning sin.” On that day, the promised Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles gathered in prayer together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, in the same Upper Room, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance,"109 "thus bringing back to unity the scattered races and offering to the Father the first-fruits of all the nations."110
The connection between Christ’s prediction and this event is clear. We perceive here the first and fundamental fulfillment of the promise of the Paraclete. He comes, sent by the Father, “after” the departure of Christ, “at the price of” that departure. This is first a departure through the Cross, and later, forty days after the Resurrection, through his Ascension into heaven. Once more, at the moment of the Ascension, Jesus orders the Apostles “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father”; “but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit”; "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."111
These last words contain an echo or reminder of the prediction made in the Upper Room. And on the day of Pentecost this prediction is fulfilled with total accuracy. Acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit, who had been received by the Apostles while they were praying in the Upper Room, Peter comes forward and speaks before a multitude of people of different languages, gathered for the feast. He proclaims what he certainly would not have had the courage to say before: Men of Israel,…Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it."112
Jesus had foretold and promised: “He will bear witness to me,…and you also are my witnesses.” In the first discourse of Peter in Jerusalem this “witness” finds its clear beginning: it is the witness to Christ crucified and risen. The witness of the Spirit- Paraclete and of the Apostles. And in the very content of that first witness, the Spirit of truth, through the lips of Peter, “convinces the world concerning sin”: first of all, concerning the sin which is the rejection of Christ even to his condemnation to death, to death on the Cross on Golgotha. Similar proclamations will be repeated, according to the text of the Acts of the Apostles, on other occasions and in various places.113
As I read the first sentence in this section today, I was mindful of how the evil one is seeking to “unconvince” the world today in ever more ways that there is no such thing as “sin”. There are “mistakes maybe” but sin? That seems too harsh for modern minds to take seriously. The rejection of Christ continues. His Word is not heeded nor, it seems to me, is it preached with the power of the Holy Spirit in many places. I wrote in the Evangelization Forum not too long ago a thread in which I asked if the Church today is afraid? How often Pope St. John Paul repeated: “Be not afraid! Open wide the doors of your hearts to Christ.” God was appealing to us through his words to receive and not reject Christ. Let us pray fervently, passionately, for the Church to be true witnesses today: clergy, religious and laity are called to let their Light shine – the Light of Christ aflame with the Holy Spirit. Let us witness with our lives and when moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, let us speak His Truth lovingly.
Come Holy Spirit, descend upon us anew, as we pray together with Mary our Mother. Mary, Mother of the Church, pray with us and for us.