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"Spirit lifted me ..."

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 14 February 1990 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. By referring to the last catechesis, we can draw from the Biblical data already cited the prophetic aspect of the activity exercised by God's Spirit over the leaders of the people, the kings and the Messiah. This aspect requires further reflection, because prophecy is the course along which the history of Israel runs, dominated by the prominent figure of Moses, the prophet par excellence, "with whom the Lord spoke face to face" (Dt 34:10). Through the centuries the Israelites became more and more familiar with the dual concept of "the law and the prophets," as an expressive synthesis of the spiritual patrimony which God entrusted to his people. And it is through his spirit that God spoke and acted in the fathers, and from generation to generation prepared a new day.

2. Without doubt the prophetic phenomenon which is seen in history is linked to the word. The prophet is a person who speaks in the name of God and delivers to his or her hearers and readers what God wants to make known concerning the present and future. God's spirit animates the word and gives it life. It gives to the prophet and the prophet's word a certain divine pathos, by which the prophet becomes vibrant and at times passionate, sometimes laden with suffering, and always dynamic.

Often the Bible describes significant episodes where it becomes evident that God's spirit rests on someone, and this person immediately pronounces a prophetic utterance. That is what happened with Balaam: "God's spirit came upon him" (Num 24:2). Then "he gave voice to his oracle and said: 'The utterance of one who hears what God has to say, and knows what the Most High knows, of one who sees what the Almighty sees, enraptured and with eyes unveiled...'" (Num 24:3-4). It is the famous prophecy, which although referring immediately to Saul (cf. 1 Sam 15:8) and to David (cf. 1 Sam 30:1 ff.) in the war against the Amalekites, evokes the Messiah as well: "I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near; a star shall advance from Jacob, a staff shall arise from Israel..." (Num 24:17).

3. Another aspect of the prophetic spirit in service to the word is that it is able to be communicated and almost divided as the needs of the people dictated. This happened in the case of Moses who worried that the number of Israelites to lead and govern totaled at that time "600,000 adult men" (Num 11:12). The Lord commanded him to choose and gather together "seventy men among the elders of Israel, known by him to be elders of the people and their authorities" (Num 11:16). That done, the Lord "took some of the spirit that was on Moses and bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them they prophesied..." (Num 11:25).

In the succession of Elisha to Elijah, the former wished to be given no less than "two thirds of the spirit" of the great prophet, a kind of double portion of the inheritance due to the eldest son (cf. Dt 21:17). This was so that he might be recognized as the principal spiritual heir among the multitude of prophets and "sons of the prophets" grouped into guilds (2 Kgs 2:3). But the spirit is not passed on from prophet to prophet like an earthly inheritance: it is God who grants it. However, it did happen so, and the "sons of the prophets" admitted it: "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha" (2 Kgs 2:15; cf 6:17).

4. In Israel's contact with neighboring peoples there was no lack of false prophecy, which led to the formation of ecstatic groups who substituted music and movements for the spirit which came from God. They belonged to the Baal cult. Elijah waged a decisive battle against such prophets (1 Kgs 18:25-29), and emerged from it alone in his greatness. For his part, Elisha had further contact with some of these groups who seemed to have come to their senses (cf. 2 Kgs 2:3).

In genuine Biblical tradition the true concept of the prophet is defended and insisted on as being a man of God's word, appointed by God, on a par with and in a line from Moses (cf. Dt 18:15 f.). God promised Moses: "I will raise up for them a prophet like you in the midst of their brethren and I will put my words in his mouth. He will speak what I command him" (Dt 18:18). This promise is accompanied with a warning against the abuses of prophecy: "If a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods he shall die. If you say to yourselves, 'How can we recognize an oracle which the Lord has spoken?' know that even though a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if his oracle is not fulfilled or verified, it is an oracle which the Lord did not speak" (Dt 18:20-21).

Another aspect of this criterion for judging is fidelity to the doctrine of God given to Israel through resistance to the seduction of idolatry (cf. Dt 13:2 f.). This explains the hostility shown toward the false prophets (cf. 1 Kgs 22:6 ff.; 2 Kgs 3:13; Jer 2:26; 5:13; 23:9-40; Mi 3:11; Zech 13:2). The duty of the prophet, as a man of God's word, is to fight the "spirit of lies" which is found on the lips of the false prophets (cf. 1 Kgs 22:23), in order to protect the people from their influence. It is a mission received from God, as Ezekiel proclaimed: "Thus the word of the Lord came to me: 'son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, prophesy! Say to those who prophesy their own thought: Hear the word of the Lord: Woe to those prophets who are fools, who follow their own spirit and have seen no vision'" (Ez 13:2-3).

5. Man of the word, the prophet must also be "a man of the spirit," as Hosea once called him (9:7). He must have the spirit of God, and not only his own spirit, if he is to speak in the name of God.

This concept was developed by Ezekiel above all, who allowed the awareness which already took place about the deep meaning of prophecy to be seen. To speak in God's name requires the presence of God's spirit in the prophet. This presence is manifested in a contact which Ezekiel calls "vision." In those who are granted it, the activity of God's spirit guarantees the truth of the words pronounced. We find here a new indication of the link between word and spirit, which linguistically and conceptually prepares the way for the link which in the New Testament is placed between the Word and the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel was aware of being personally led by the spirit: "Spirit entered into me" (he writes), "it set me on my feet and I heard the one who spoke to me" (Ez 2:2). The spirit enters into the person of the prophet. It makes him stand up: therefore it makes of him a witness to God's word. It lifts him up and puts him into motion: "Spirit lifted me up...and carried me away" (Ez 3:12-14). Thus does the dynamism of the spirit manifest itself (cf. Ez 8:3; 11:1, 5, 24; 43:5). Furthermore, Ezekiel specifies that he is speaking of "the Lord's Spirit" (11:5).

6. The dynamic aspect of the prophetic action of the divine Spirit comes through strongly in the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah who, after the return from the Exile, vigorously pushed the repatriated Hebrews to get to work rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem. The result of the first prophecy of Haggai was that "the Lord stirred up the spirit of the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel...and the spirit of the high priest Joshua...and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, so that they came and set to work on the house of the Lord of hosts" (Hg 1:14). In a second prophecy the prophet Haggai intervened once again and promised the powerful help of the Lord's spirit: "Courage Zerubbabel.... Courage, Joshua.... Courage, all people of the land, says the spirit will be with you, do not fear" (Hg 2:4-5). Likewise the prophet Zechariah proclaimed: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: neither by an army nor with might, but with my spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zech 4:6).

In the days immediately preceding the birth of Jesus, there were no longer prophets in Israel and no one knew how long that situation would last (cf. Ps 74:9; 1 Macc 9:27). Yet one of the last prophets, Joel, had announced a universal outpouring of God's spirit which was to take place "before the coming of the day of the Lord, the great and terrible day" (Joel 3:4). It was to be manifested with an extraordinary spreading of the gift of prophecy. The Lord had proclaimed through his agent: "I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind; your sons and daughters will prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams and your young men shall see visions" (3:1).

Thus finally the wish expressed many centuries previously by Moses would be fulfilled: "Would that all were prophets among the Lord's people and would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all" (Num 11:29). Prophetic inspiration would thus reach even "the slaves, both men and women" (Joel 3:2), overcoming all distinctions of cultural level or social condition. Then salvation would be offered to all: "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Joel 3:5).

As we saw in a previous catechesis, this prophecy of Joel found its fulfillment on the day of Pentecost. Turning to the amazed crowd, the Apostle Peter was able to declare: "What the prophet Joel prophesied has come to pass"; and he repeated the oracle of the prophet (cf. Acts 2:16-21), explaining that Jesus, "exalted at the right hand of God, had received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and had poured it out" abundantly (cf. Acts 2:33). From that day on, the prophetic activity of the Holy Spirit has been continually manifested in the Church to give her light and comfort."


After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Soeurs

Je salue cordialement les personnes de langue française présentes à cette audience. Je souhaite que leur visite à Rome ravive leur foi au Christ et les encourage à prendre une part toujours plus active à la vie de leurs communautés paroissiales. A tous, jeunes et adultes, je donne de grand coeur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to welcome the members of the Choir of the Saint Charles Lwanga Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Dear Brothers and Sisters: may your visit to the City of the Apostles Peter and Paul depen your love for Christ’s Church and inspire you always to use your gifts for the greater glory of God. To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Ai fedeli di espressione tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüsse ich sehr herzlich alle anwesenden Pilger deutscher Sprache, besonders eine Gruppe von Firmkandidaten aus der Prämonstratenser-Pfarre Pernegg in Niederösterreich, die mit ihren Eltern, Freunden und ihrem Pfarrer nach Rom gekommen sind. Euch allen sowie den Hörerinnen und Hörern von Radio Vatikan erteile ich von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Doy mi más cordial bienvenida a este encuentro a todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos países de América Latina y de España.

Con particular afecto saludo a los sacerdotes y demás almas consagradas aquí presentes, a quienes aliento a una entrega sin reservas a su vocación en fidelidad a Cristo y la Iglesia. Igualmente saludo al grupo de estudiantes de la Escuela Italiana de Lima, Perú.

A todos bendigo de corazón.

A numerosi pellegrini di espressione portoghese

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

Saudo quantos me escutam, sobretudo os presentes, com votos de todo o bem, sob os favores de Deus, com a Bênção Apostólica.  

Ai fedeli di lingua polacca

Witam serdecznie pielgrzymów z Polski i emigracji, w szczególności z archidiecezji warszawskiej, a także uczestiników grup turystycznych Orbisu i Turysty.

Dziś jest uroczystość świętych Cyryla i Metodego, których Kościół - wespół ze św. Benedyktem - czci jako patronów Europy.

W tym dniu pragnę rozpocząć nowy cykl “ jasnogórski ”. Przed dziesięciu prawie laty podobnym cyklem przygotowywałem się do drugiej pielgrzymki do Ojczyzny, która wypadła w r. 1983, w okresie po wprowadzeniu stanu wojenego i delegalizacji “ Sołidarności ”.

Od zeszłego roku sytuacja uległa zmianie daleko idącej. Równocześnie wkroczyliśmy w lata dziewiećdzioestąte naszego stulecia oraz drugiego Millenium po Chrystusie. Jeśli mamy się przygotować do koleinei pielgrzymki na ziemię ojczystą, widzę potrzebę nowego “ cyklu jasnogórskiego ”. Najlepiej, gdy przygotowanie przybierze postac podobnych jak ongiś zwięzłychg - co tydzień - odwiedzin w sanktuarium jasnogórskim Matki Kościoła i Narodu.

Po raz pierwszy tepż perspektywa pielgrzymki do Polski rozszerza się. I dlatego dzień dzisiejszy wybieram, aby rozpocząć ów nowy “ jasnogórski cykl ”. Właśnie dlatego, że jest to świeto Apostołów Słowian, współpatronów Europy.

Ad alcuni gruppi di lingua italiana

Do ora il benvenuto ai partecipanti al III Congresso mondiale dei Maestri di Cappella sul tema “Unità nella diversità della musica sacra al servizio del culto divino”. Provenienti da 43 Paesi, voi state riflettendo sulla valorizzazione delle molteplici forme musicali legate alle diverse culture che, se ben armonizzate, arricchiscono il già vasto e prezioso patrimonio della Musica Sacra nella Chiesa.

Un saluto particolare ai pellegrini della Fraternità Francescana “La Pace” di Massa Martana, in diocesi di Todi, venuti a Roma per commemorare il IV centenario della presenza dei Frati Francescani del Terzo Ordine Regolare e per far benedire una statua della Madonna della Pace.

Ringrazio poi cordialmente i fedeli della parrocchia di San Leone I, a Via Prenestina, che, insieme al parroco, sono venuti a restituirmi la visita che ho fatto loro lo scorso dicembre. Saluto inoltre il gruppo degli scouts della parrocchia di San Tommaso Moro, in Roma, i quali ricordano quest’anno il decennale della loro fondazione.

Annuncio del nuovo ciclo di Jasna Gora:

In preparazione al prossimo pellegrinaggio in terra patria, Giovanni Paolo II indice un nuovo “ciclo di Jasna Gora”. Lo annuncia il Santo Padre stesso durante l’udienza generale di oggi, giorno dedicato ai Santi Cirillo e Metodio, Apostoli degli Slavi. Queste le parole rivolte dal Santo Padre ai pellegrini polacchi.

Oggi è la festa dei Santi Cirillo e Metodio i quali, insieme con San Benedetto, sono venerati dalla Chiesa come patroni d’Europa. In questo giorno desidero iniziare il nuovo “ciclo di Jasna Gora”. Circa dieci anni fa con un simile ciclo mi sono preparato al secondo pellegrinaggio alla patria. Esso ha avuto luogo nel 1983, nel periodo dopo l’applicazione dello stato di guerra e dopo la dichiarazione di illegalità di “Solidarnosc”. Dall’anno scorso la situazione è cambiata notevolmente. Nello stesso tempo siamo entrati negli anni Novanta del nostro secolo e del secondo millennio dopo Cristo. Dato che dobbiamo prepararci al prossimo pellegrinaggio in terra patria, vedo la necessità di un nuovo “ciclo di Jasna Gora”. La cosa migliore sarà quando la preparazione acquisterà la forma delle brevi visite (spirituali) che ogni settimana, come in passato, si faranno nel santuario della Madonna di Jasna Gora, Madre della Chiesa e della nazione. Per la prima volta la prospettiva del pellegrinaggio in Polonia si allarga. E per questa ragione ho deciso di scegliere proprio il giorno di oggi, che è la festa degli apostoli degli Slavi, compatroni d’Europa, per iniziare il nuovo “ciclo di Jasna Gora”.

Esortazione a costruire un mondo libero:

Una nuova esortazione a costruire un mondo libero dalle contrapposizioni etniche, razziali e religiose, mentre cadono tante barriere ideologiche, è rivolta dal Papa ai fedeli che gremiscono l’Aula Paolo VI. Queste le parole del Santo Padre.

Mi è gradito rivolgere infine il consueto saluto a tutti i giovani, agli ammalati, ai loro accompagnatori e alle coppie di sposi novelli. In questo giorno, nel quale la Chiesa celebra la festa liturgica dei santi Cirillo e Metodio, compatroni d’Europa, mentre cadono tante barriere ideologiche, vi invito tutti a costruire un mondo libero dalle contrapposizioni etniche, razziali e religiose. A voi giovani, particolarmente, affido l’impegno di fondare il futuro sulla parola di Dio che libera, sulla speranza che si fa vita e smuove le montagne di ogni egoismo. Voi, ammalati, offrite al Signore le vostre sofferenze, che sono tanto preziose, per la causa del Vangelo e la salvezza del mondo. A voi, sposi novelli, chiedo di testimoniare l’impegno di amore e di fedeltà che vi siete assunti davanti all’altare guardando sempre a Cristo come unica sorgente di gioia e forza di liberazione. A tutti impartisco la mia benedizione.

Saluto a visitatori provenienti dall’Unione Sovietica:

Un breve e cordiale saluto il Santo Padre rivolge nel corso dell’udienza generale a un significativo gruppo di visitatori proveniente dalla Repubblica Socialista Sovietica dell’Ucraina.

Saluto cordialmente gli egregi direttori delle superiori Istituzioni di ricerche scientifiche, tecnologiche e industriali della Repubblica Socialista Sovietica dell’Ucraina, partecipanti al corso di aggiornamento scientifico presso il Politecnico Europeo di Milano, che in tale occasione hanno voluto recarsi a Roma e far visita al Pontefice Romano. A voi tutti qui presenti, onorevoli scienziati, ai vostri congiunti e amici esprimo i migliori auguri di ogni bene e impartisco di tutto cuore la mia benedizione.

© Copyright 1990 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana