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The presence of Christ's Kingdom in human history

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
Castel Gondolfo, Wednesday 22 November 1989 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. As we have seen in the progressive unfolding of the pneumatological reflections, the Holy Spirit revealed himself in his salvific power on the day of Pentecost. He was revealed as "another Counselor" (cf. Jn 14:16), who "proceeds from the Father" (Jn 15:26), whom "the Father sends in the Son's name" (cf. Jn 14:26). He was revealed as "Someone" distinct from the Father and the Son, and at the same time consubstantial with them. He is revealed through the Son, even though he remained invisible. He was revealed through the power and action attributed to him, distinct from that of the Son, and at the same time intimately united to him. Such is the Holy Spirit according to Christ's statement on the day before his passion: "He will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:14). "He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (Jn 16:13).

The Paraclete-Counselor does not replace Christ. He comes after him in virtue of Christ's redemptive sacrifice. He comes so that Christ can remain in the Church and work in her as Redeemer and Lord.

2. I wrote in the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem: "Between the Holy Spirit and Christ there thus subsists, in the economy of salvation, an intimate bond whereby the Spirit works in human history as 'another Counselor,' permanently ensuring the transmission and spreading of the Good News revealed by Jesus of Nazareth. Thus in the Holy Spirit Paraclete, who in the mystery and action of the Church unceasingly continues the historical presence on earth of the Redeemer and his saving work, the glory of Christ shines forth, as the following words attest: 'He (the Spirit of truth) will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you'" (n. 7).

3. The truth contained in this promise of Jesus became evident at Pentecost: The Holy Spirit fully "reveals" the mystery of Christ, his messianic and redemptive mission. The primitive Church was aware of this fact, as is clear from Peter's first preaching and from many later episodes recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

On the day of Pentecost it is significant that in replying to his hearers' question, "What shall we do?" Peter exhorted them: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). In sending his apostles into the whole world, Jesus had ordered them to administer baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). Peter echoed faithfully the Master's word and the result was that, on that occasion, "about three thousand persons" (Acts 2:41) were baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38). This expression, "in the name of Jesus Christ," represents the key for entering with faith into the fullness of the Trinitarian mystery and thus becoming Christ's possession as persons consecrated to him. In this sense, the Acts speaks of the invocation of the name of Jesus in order to be saved (cf. 2:21; 3:16; 4:10-12; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16). In his letters St. Paul insists on the same requirement in the order of salvation (cf. Rom 6:3; 1 Cor 6:11; Gal 3:27; cf. also James 2:7). During the Last Supper Jesus promised the trinitarian gift when he said to the apostles: "The Spirit of truth...will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:13-15). This trinitarian gift becomes a reality through baptism "in the Holy Spirit," conferred "in the name of Christ."

4. In all their activities carried out after Pentecost under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the apostles referred to Christ as the reason, the principle and the operative power. Thus in the cure of the lame man "near the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful" (Acts 3:2), Peter said to him: "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" (Acts 3:6). This miracle drew many people to Solomon's portico, and Peter spoke to them, as on Pentecost day, of Christ crucified "whom God raised from the dead, and to this we are witnesses" (Acts 3:15). It was faith in Christ that cured the lame man: "Faith in his name has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of all of you" (Acts 3:16).

5. When the apostles were summoned for the first time before the Sanhedrin, "Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit," in the presence of the "rulers of the people and elders" (Acts 4:8) bore witness yet again to Christ crucified and risen. He concluded his reply to the Sanhedrin as follows: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). When they were released, the author of Acts tells us, "they went to their friends" and with them praised the Lord (Acts 4:23-24). Then there was a kind of minor Pentecost: "When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). Later, in the first Christian community and before the people, "with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).

The deacon Stephen was a special example of this fearless witness to Christ. He was the first martyr, and we read in the account of his death: "Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him" (Acts 7:55-59).

6. From these and other accounts in Acts it is clear that the apostles' teaching under the influence of the Holy Spirit has its reference point and keystone in Christ. The Holy Spirit enabled the apostles and their disciples to penetrate the truth of the Gospel proclaimed by Christ, and particularly his paschal mystery. He enkindled in them love for Christ to the point of sacrificing their lives. He ensured that the Church brought into being, from the very beginning, the kingdom brought by Christ. Under the action of the Holy Spirit and with the collaboration of the apostles, of their successors and of the entire Church, this kingdom will develop in history until the end of time. There is no trace in the Gospels, in the Acts or in the letters of the apostles of any kind of pneumatological utopianism whereby the kingdom of the Father (Old Testament) and of Christ (New Testament) should be succeeded by the kingdom of the Holy Spirit, represented by the claims of the "spirituals," exempt from all law, even from the evangelic law preached by Jesus. As St. Thomas Aquinas writes, "the old law was not only of the Father, but also of the Son, since the old law prefigures Christ.... So likewise the new law is not only of Christ, but also of the Holy Spirit, according to the words of St. Paul: 'The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus...' (Rom 8:2). Therefore we are not to expect another law which would be that of the Holy Spirit" (Summa Theol., I, II, q. 106, a. 4, ad 3). During the Middle Ages there were some who, under the influence of the apocalyptic speculations of the pious Calabrian monk Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202), dreamed and predicted the coming of a "third kingdom" in which the universal renewal in preparation for the end of the world, foretold by Jesus, would be verified (cf. Mt 14:4). But St. Thomas further notes that "from the very beginning of the Gospel preaching Christ had stated: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Mt 4:17). Hence it is very stupid to say that Christ's Gospel is not the Gospel of the kingdom" (Summa Theol., I, II, q. 106, a. 4, ad 4). It is one of the very few cases in which the holy Doctor used harsh words in judging an erroneous opinion, because in the thirteenth century the controversy engendered by the ravings of the "spirituals" was very much alive. They distorted Joachim's teaching, and St. Thomas saw the danger of the claims of independence and innovation founded on the presumption of charisms. They were to the detriment of the cause of the Gospel and of the true kingdom of God. Therefore he harked back to the necessity of the "fully successful preaching of the Gospel in the whole world, that is to say, with the foundation of the Church in every nation. And in this sense...the Gospel has not been preached in the whole world; the end of the world will come after this preaching" (Summa Theol., I, II, q. 106, a. 4 ad 4).

This has been the Church's own line of thought from the very beginning, on the basis of the preaching of Peter and the other apostles. There one finds not even the shadow of a dichotomy between Christ and the Holy Spirit. Rather, their preaching confirms what Jesus had said of the Paraclete during the Last Supper: "He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you" (Jn 16:13-14).

7. At this point we cannot but rejoice at the amount of space devoted by the theology of our Eastern brothers to reflection on the relation between Christ and the Holy Spirit. This relation finds its most intimate expression in the Christ-Pneuma after the resurrection and Pentecost, in line with the words of St. Paul, "the last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor 15:45). It is an open field for the study and contemplation of the mystery which is both Christological and Trinitarian. The Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem states: "The supreme and complete self-revelation of God, accomplished in Christ and witnessed to by the preaching of the apostles, continues to be manifested in the Church through the mission of the invisible Counselor, the Spirit of truth. How intimately this mission is linked with the mission of Christ, how fully it draws from this mission of Christ, consolidating and enveloping in history its salvific results, is expressed by the verb 'take': 'he will take what is mine and declare it to you.' As if to explain the words 'he will take' by clearly expressing the divine and trinitarian unity of the source, Jesus adds: 'All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.' By the very fact of taking what is 'mine' he will draw from 'what is the Father's'" (n. 7).

Let us recognize it frankly: this mystery of the trinitarian presence in humanity through the kingdom of Christ and of the Holy Spirit is the most beautiful and joyous truth that the Church could give to the world."


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

Ai fedeli di lingua francese 

Chers Frères et Sœurs,

J’accueille avec joie les personnes d’expression française venues à cette audience.

EN PARTICULIER j’adresse mes salutations cordiales aux Maîtresses des novices de la Congrégation des Filles de Marie Immaculée (Marianistes), qui terminent une session d’études à Rome. Chères Sœurs, que la Vierge Marie, “Sedes Sapientiae”, vous assiste dans votre importante mission auprès des candidates à la vie religieuse! 

* * *

JE SALUE également les étudiants participant à la session du Centre ELIS, venus de plusieurs pays francophones du continent africain, et je forme les meilleurs vœux pour leur activité professionnelle.

Enfin, à toutes les personnes ici présentes, jeunes et adultes, je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai fedeli di lingua inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I WISH TO WELCOME the group of Buddhist monks who have come to Rome from Cambodia and are present at today’s audience. My cordial greetings also go to the group of pilgrims from the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario. To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors among us I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

A pellegrini provenienti dal Giappone 

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

CARISSIMI PELLEGRINI provenienti da varie parti del Giappone, so che nelle vostre comunità cristiane si tiene in grande considerazione la recita del santo Rosario. Vi invito, carissimi, a pregare per la pace del mondo e, in particolare, per il progresso spirituale di ciascuno.

Questo è anche il mio augurio a tutti voi.

Vi benedico di cuore.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! 

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca 

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

MIT DIESER KURZEN Betrachtung grüße ich herzlich alle anwesenden Pilger und Besucher aus den deutschsprachigen Ländern und erteile euch und euren lieben Angehörigen in der Heimat sowie den mit uns über Radio Vatikan verbundenen Hörerinnen und Hörern meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Gern benutze ich diese Gelegenheit, um den Teilnehmern und allen interessierten Zuschauern dieser Sendung über den Vatikan beste Grüße zu übermitteln. Mit besonderer Freude erinnere ich mich meiner beiden Pastoralbesuche in Ihrem Land und an das kürzliche sehr fruchtbare Gespräch mit meinen Mitbrüdern in der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz hier in Rom. Eine bessere gegenseitige Kenntnis ermöglicht ein tieferes gegenseitiges Verstehen und - wo erwünscht oder notwendig - eine noch wirksamere Zusammenarbeit. Möge in diesem Sinn auch die heutige Sendung dazu beitragen und die freundschaftlichen Beziehungen zwischen Ihrem Land und dem Heiligen Stuhl weiter festigen. Von Herzen wünsche ich Ihnen und Ihren Familien eine gesegnete Advents-und Weihnachtszeit.

Ai fedeli di lingua portoghese 

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

CAROS IRMÃOS e irmãs: que a festividade de Cristo Rei, a celebrar-se no próximo domingo, afervore nas vossas almas a graça de pertencerdes ao Reino de Cristo. De todo o coração vos abençoo. 

Ai gruppi di lingua spagnola 

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

DESEO AHORA PRESENTAR mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida a este encuentro a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua española.

En particular, a las Religiosas de la Compañía de Santa Teresa de Jesús, provenientes de diversos países, reunidas en Roma para la Tercera Probación.

Que este nuevo paso en vuestra vida religiosa os afiance más y más en vuestro amor a Cristo y a la Iglesia. 

* * * 

UN SALUDO igualmente al grupo de Padres de familia y alumnos de los Colegios Maristas de El Salvador. Os aliento a ser siempre constructores de paz y armonía en la vida familiar y social de vuestro sufrido país, particularmente cercano a mi corazón y a mis plegarias.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos países de América Latina y de España imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica. 

Ai pellegrini polacchi

SERDECZNIE POZDRAWIAM pielgrzymów z Polski: księży biskupów - ks. bpa Edwarda Materskiego, ks. bpa Mariana Jaworskiego; pielgrzymow z parafii Bożego Ciała w krakowie; z paraffi św Stanisława Męczennika w Żębocinie z dekanatu czernichowskiego; z parafii Pięciu Braci Męczenników z Bydgoszczy; z paraffi bł. Urszuli Ledóchowskiej z Gdańska; z paraffi Matki Bożej Pocieszenia w Oławie; z parafii św. Jacka w Słupsku; prócz lego grupę Wojewódzkiego Związku Rolnikow z Warszawy; uczestników rejsu statkiem “Szota Rustaveli” z Krakowskiego Biura Interstar; uczestników Rewii na Ladre; a także uczestników grupy turystycznej Orbisu. . . . Wszystkich księży biskupów i wszystkich obecnych dzisiaj pielgrzymow z Polski, zwłaszcza bardzo liczną grupę, podróżników ze statku, serdecznie pozdrawiam i życzę błogosławieństwa Bożego. 

Ai gruppi italiani 

Il mio cordiale pensiero va ora ai numerosi gruppi di lingua italiana, tra i quali sono i Sacerdoti del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, detti “Dehoniani”, che sono presenti a Roma per un corso di approfondimento ed aggiornamento del loro delicato compito di formatori del giovani nel loro Istituto; le Suore di Santa Maria della Divina Provvidenza, che si preparano alla professione perpetua: un impegno definitivo nel loro servizio a Cristo ed ai fratelli; un saluto particolare rivolgo pure ai membri dell’Istituto secolare “Cristo Re”, che partecipano ad un corso di esercizi spirituali. A questo benemerito Istituto, nato a Milano nel 1939 per iniziativa del compianto Prof. Giuseppe Lazzati, esprimo l’augurio che possa rendere sempre più incisiva ed efficace la sua presenza laicale cristiana nel mondo. 

* * * 

Infine un cordiale pensiero ed un caldo augurio ai redattori del periodico cattolico forlivese “Il Momento”, che ricorda il settantesimo anniversario della sua istituzione. Vi esprimo le mie felicitazioni per la lunga testimonianza culturale, sociale e religiosa che il vostro giornale ha saputo dare in questi anni; vi esprimo anche e soprattutto fervidi auguri perché possiate ben continuare il vostro prezioso lavoro di informazione e di formazione cristiana. 

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli 

Rivolgo, come di consueto, il mio saluto ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli, presenti in questa udienza.

Carissimi, desidero attirare la vostra attenzione sull’amabile santa romana Cecilia, di cui oggi ricordare la memoria liturgica. È importante conoscere la personalità dei Santi per poterli imitare ed invocare.

Ella che, nel fiore dei suoi giovani anni, seppe sostenere dure prove per restare fedele ai suoi impegni col Signore, è per voi, ragazzi e ragazze, un chiaro esempio di coerenza e di fortezza d’animo nelle difficoltà, che potrete incontrare nel vostro cammino di fede.

Per voi, ammalati, la serenità con la quale la Santa affrontò il martirio cruento sia di sostegno e di incoraggiamento nei momenti difficili della vostra vita.

Infine, il tenero amore che Ella nutrì per lo sposo Valeriano e lo zelo, col quale si prodigò per condurlo alla fede e alla totale conversione a Cristo, sono esempi meravigliosi che devono distinguere la vita cristiana di voi, sposi novelli, che intendete porre la vostra famiglia sotto la protezione di Dio.

A tutti imparto la mia Benedizione.

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