Bookmark and Share

The initial apostolic preaching

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
Wednesday Audience, Wednesday 8 November 1989 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. Before his return to the Father, Jesus had promised the apostles: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). As I wrote in the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem , "On the day of Pentecost this prediction was 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" (n. 30). It is the first witness given publicly and one might say solemnly to the risen Christ, to Christ victorious. It is also the beginning of the apostolic preaching.

2. We already spoke about it in the previous reflection, examining it from the point of view of the teacher: "Peter with the eleven" (cf. Acts 2:14). Today we wish to analyze the content of that first sermon, as a model or schema of the many other proclamations which will follow in the Acts of the Apostles, and later in the history of the Church.

Peter addressed those who had assembled near the upper room: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem" (Acts 2:14). They were the same people who had witnessed the phenomenon of the glossolalia, and heard in their own languages the apostles speaking of "the mighty works of God" (cf. Acts 2:11). In his discourse Peter began by defending or at least explaining the condition of those who, "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4), were suspected of being drunk because of their unusual behavior. From the opening words he gave the answer: "These men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day: but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:15-16).

3. The passage from Joel is extensively quoted in Acts: "And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17). This "outpouring of the Spirit" on both young and old, on menservants and maidservants, will have therefore a universal character. And it will be confirmed by signs: "I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below" (Acts 2:19). These will be the signs of the "day of the Lord" which is approaching (cf. Acts 2:20). "And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).

4. In the mind of the speaker, the text from Joel aptly explains the meaning of the event of which those present saw the signs: "the outpouring of the Holy Spirit." It was a supernatural act of God joined to signs typical of the coming of God, foretold by the prophets and identified by the New Testament with the coming of Christ. This is the context in which Peter concentrated the essential content of his discourse, which is the very nucleus of the apostolic "kerygma": "Men of Israel, hear these words: 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, as you yourselves know—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" (Acts 2:22-24).

Perhaps not all those present at Peter's discourse, having come from many regions for the Pasch and Pentecost, had taken part in the events in Jerusalem which ended with Christ's crucifixion. But Peter addressed them also as "men of Israel," belonging to an ancient world in which, by that time, the signs of the Lord's new coming were clear for everyone.

5. The signs and wonders to which Peter referred were certainly still within the recollection of the people of Jerusalem, but also of many others of his hearers. They must have at least heard Jesus of Nazareth spoken about. In any case, having recalled all that Jesus had done, Peter passed to the fact of Jesus' death on the cross, and spoke directly of the responsibility of those who had consigned him to death. However, he added that Christ "was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" (cf. Acts 2:23). Peter therefore introduced his hearers into the vision of God's salvific plan which was fulfilled precisely by means of Christ's death. And he hastened to give the decisive confirmation of God's action through and beyond what had been done by men. This confirmation is Christ's resurrection: "God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it" (Acts 2:24).

It is the culminating point of the apostolic kerygma concerning Christ the Savior who had vanquished death.

6. At this point Peter again had recourse to the Old Testament. He cited the messianic psalm 16 vv. 8-11:

"I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades
not let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with your presence" (Acts 2:25-28).

It is a legitimate adaptation of the Davidic Psalm which the author of Acts quotes according to the Greek text of the Septuagint. It emphasizes the aspiration of the Jewish soul to escape death, in the sense of a hope of liberation from death even after it has taken place.

7. Doubtlessly Peter was at pains to stress that the words of the psalm do not refer to David, whose tomb, he remarked, was with them to that day. They refer, rather, to his descendant, Jesus Christ: David "foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:31). The prophetic words are therefore fulfilled: "This Jesus Christ God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.... Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:32-33, 36).

8. On the day before his passion Jesus had told the apostles in the upper room, in reference to the Holy Spirit: "He will bear witness to me...and you also are witnesses" (Jn 15:26-27). As I wrote in the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem, "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" (n. 30).

In this testimony Peter wished to remind his hearers of the mystery of the risen Christ. But he also wished to explain the facts of Pentecost at which they were present, by showing that they were signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Paraclete really came by virtue of Christ's Pasch. He came and transformed those men of Galilee, to whom was entrusted the witness concerning Christ, "exalted at the right hand of the Father" (cf. Acts 2:33), that is to say, exalted by his victory over death. His coming was therefore a confirmation of the divine power of the risen Christ. "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). In writing to the Romans Paul also proclaimed: "Jesus is Lord" (Rom 10:9)."


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

Ai fedeli di lingua francese 

AU TERME de cette réflexion, je tiens à saluer le pèlerinage du diocèse de Luçon, guidé par son évêque, Monseigneur Charles Paty. A tous les participants, prêtres et laïcs, je souhaite la grâce de servir tonjours mieux l’Eglise qui est en Vendée, en communion avec l’Eglise universelle.

* * *

J’ADRESSE mes félicitations aux responsables du vingt-cinquième pèlerinage à Rome du cinquième Régiment de Chasseurs, de Périgeux. Aux jeunes participants et à leurs cadres, j’exprime mes vœux fervents. Que ces journées romaines vécues dans la joie et dans la foi chrétiennes, laissent des traces profondes dans la vie de chacun!

* * *

TOUS MES SOUHAITS aux religieuses du Sacré-Cœur présentes à Rome pour bénéficier d’un temps de ressourcement spirituel. Que le Seigneur leur accorde la précieuse faveur d’une jeunesse d’âme sans déclin!

A tous les pèlerins de langue française, mon cordial merci pour leur visite et mon affectueuse Bénédiction Apostolique!

Ai diversi gruppi di espressione inglese 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I CORDIALLY GREET a Church of Sweden group of theologians, artists and lawyers. I wish to extend a special welcome to the Carmelite Sisters in Rome to celebrate their Jubilees of Religious Life. Dear Sisters, may you always show forth in your lives the joy and inner strenght which spring from fidelity to the Lord. May you be filled with hope and love in your religious consecration. I also greet the visitors from Korea, whose country I had the pleasure of visiting recently.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings.

A rappresentanti del Buddhismo Shingon e dello Shintoismo 

SALUTO IL VENERABILE Gimyo Inaba, il Venerabile Yukitaka Yamamoto e le illustri personalità del Buddhismo Shingon e dello Shintoismo che li accompagnano.

Tre anni fa, ad Assisi, i massimi rappresentanti delle religioni hanno posto le basi di un’azione comune che favorisca la pace nel mondo. Mi rallegro per quanto anche voi fate per un più fruttuoso dialogo tra le religioni. Auspico che questo dialogo si approfondisca sempre più per il vero bene di tutta l’umanità.

Vi ringrazio per questa vostra visita ed auguro ogni bene a voi e a tutte le persone che rappresentate. 

Ai diversi gruppi di espressione linguistica tedesca 

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!

MIT DIESER KURZEN Betrachtung grüße ich alle heutigen Audienzteilnehmer aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Mein besonderer Gruß gilt den anwesenden Behinderten aus der Diözese Trier sowie den Behinderten und Blinden aus Nürnberg. Möge euch die Begegnung mit den Heiligen Stätten in eurem Galuben bestärken und euch neue Kraft und Zuversicht schenken. Ferner grüße ich noch herzlich die Gruppe des Bischöflichen Ordinariates Münster zusammen mit sieben Priestern, die ihr Goldenes Priesterjubiläum feiern. Mit besten Segenswünschen für die hochwürdigen Herrn Jubilare wünsche ich euch allen fruchtbare Studientage in der Ewigen Stadt. Euch und allen anwesenden deutschsprachigen Pilgern erteile ich von Herzen meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai fedeli provenienti da Paesi di espressione spagnola 

SALUDO AHORA muy cordialmente a todos los peregrinos y visitantes provenientes de los diversos Países de América Latina y de España, presentes en esta Audiencia.

En particular, al grupo de Formadores Claretianos reunidos en Roma para un curso de renovación, a quienes aliento a una ilusionada entrega en su labor apostólica y docente. 

* * * 

IGUALMENTE SALUDO a los representantes del “Grupo Fénixmutuo”, que han querido conmemorar el veinticinco aniversario de la fundación de la Mutua con esta visita a Roma, centro de la catolicidad. Os animo a un empeño social en favor de los más necesitados. Finalmente mi cordial bienvenida a este encuentro a los peregrinos de Guatemala, Argentina y México.

A todos bendigo de corazón. 

A giocatori e dirigenti della squadra di calcio sovietica del Dniepr 

Sono lieto di salutare la squadra sovietica di calcio dello “Dniepr”.

IL SIGNORE VOGLIA che la vostra attività sportiva giovi ad elevare gli spiriti di bontà, di fraternità e di sostegno morale all’uomo.

Ai suoi connazionali polacchi 

POZDRAWIAM PIELGRZYMOW z Polski: księdza kardynała Matropolitę Krakowskiego, księży biskupów Vosińskiego, Śrutę i Pawłowskiego, a także pielgrzymów z parafii Miłosierdzia Bożego na Wzgórzach Krzesławickich w Krakowie; z parafii Najświętszej Maryi Panny Matki Kościoła w Pręadniku Białym w Krakowie; kapłanów diecezji lubelskiej na 25-lecie święceń; pielgrzymów z parafii bł. Brata Alberta w Puławach, w diecezji lubelskiej; z parafii św. Józefa we Włociawku; z parafii Świętego Krzyża w Kole; z parafii św. Wojciecha w Kłobi, w diecezji włocławskiej; rolników z diecezji siedleckiej; służbę zdrowia z diecezji gdańskiej prócz tego pielgrzymów z polskiej parafii w Hamburgu; z parafii św. Jacka w Słupsku; z parafii Matki Bożei w Międzywodziu; z parafii św. Józefa w Dziwnowie; grupę kolejarzy z Warszawy oraz uczestników grupy turystycznej Turysta . . . Kościół stale głosi prawdę o Chrystusie ukrżyzowanym i zmartwychwstałym, głosi ją wszystkim narodom, głosi ją także i na naszej polskiej ziemi od tysiąca lat. Od tysiąca lat żyjemy tą prawdą o Chrystusie ukrzyżowanym i zmartwychwstałym i staramy się jei dawać świadectwo: “ Duch o Mnie świadectwo dawać będzie i wy o Mnie świadectwo dawać będziecie ”. To się odnosi oczywiście i do Kościoła w Polsce. W przededniu wielkiego wydarzenia kanonizacji Brata Alberta życzę Kościołowi w Polsce, reprezentowanemu tutaj przez wszystkich pielgrzymów, zwłaszcza przez członków Episkopatu, tego świadectwa. 

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e sposi novelli 

SALUTO ORA i giovani, gli ammalati, gli sposi novelli, qui convenuti per questa Udienza alla vigilia della Festa della Dedicazione della Basilica Lateranense: Cattedrale di Roma.

Carissimi, questa ricorrenza vi aiuti a riscoprire il significato della vostra appartenenza alla Chiesa Universale e alle singole Chiese locali, e a realizzarne le intime esigenze di comunione e di amore.

A voi, giovani, auguro di essere sempre pronti ad offrire il vostro specifico contributo perché i vostri gruppi siano centri di autentica comunione. Invito voi, ammalati, a pregare affinché le comunità di cui fate parte siano testimonianze credibili della presenza del Regno di Dio nel mondo. Auguro a voi, sposi novelli, di essere pronti a rendere le vostre famiglie delle pietre vive per la costruzione dell’edificio della Chiesa domestica.

A tutti imparto la mia Benedizione.

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana