Bookmark and Share

The Spirit of prayer fueled the Master's active life

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, Wednesday 25 July 1990 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. After the "experience of the desert", Jesus began his messianic activity among the people. Luke writes that "Numerous crowds came to him to listen to him and be healed" (Lk 5:15). This activity consisted in evangelizing and teaching about the kingdom of God, choosing and training his apostles, healing the sick, and preaching in synagogues while moving from city to city (cf. Lk 4:43-44). It was an intense activity which was accompanied by "signs and wonders" (cf. Acts 2:22). These flowed in their totality out of the anointing in the Holy Spirit which the evangelist speaks of from the beginning of the public life. As the fullness of the gift the presence of the Holy Spirit is constant, although it is mentioned only at some points.

Since he had to evangelize people in order to dispose them for redemption, Jesus was sent to live among them, and not in a desert or other lonely place. His place was in the midst of the people, as Remigius of Auxerre (†908) noted, as quoted by St. Thomas. But the Angelic Doctor himself observes: "Christ's return to normal life after his fasting in the desert did not happen without good reason. That is what suits the life of one who is committed to communicating to others the results of his own contemplation, a commitment which Christ took on: that is, a commitment to devote himself first to prayer and then to go down into the public arena of action by living in the midst of others" [1] .

2. Though immersed in the crowd, Jesus remained deeply dedicated to prayer. Luke informs us that he "would withdraw to deserted places to pray" (Lk 5:16). He lived by translating the condition of permanent dialogue with the Father in which he lived into eminently religious acts. Luke states that he sometimes spent "the night in communion with God" (cf. Lk 6:12). The evangelists highlight some of these events: the prayer preceding the transfiguration on Tabor (cf. Lk 9:29) and during the agony in Gethsemane where his filial closeness and union to the Father in the Holy Spirit reach a sublime expression in the words: "Abba, Father! All things are possible to you, take this cup from me! But not what I will but what you will" (Mk 14:36).

3. There is one case in which the evangelist attributes Jesus' prayer explicitly to the Holy Spirit. This reveals the habitual state of contemplation from which that prayer sprang. It happened that during the journey to Jerusalem Jesus spoke with the disciples from whose number he chose seventy-two. After having properly instructed them, he sent them out to evangelize the people in places he was about to visit (cf. Lk 10:1). Upon their return from the mission, the seventy-two told Jesus what they had done, including the casting out of demons in his name (cf. Lk 10:17). After having told them that he had seen "Satan falling like fire from heaven" (Lk 10:18), Jesus exulted in the Holy Spirit and said: "I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to the merest children. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will" (Lk 10:21).

As I observed in the Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem, "Jesus rejoices at the fatherhood of God: he rejoices because it has been given him to reveal this fatherhood; he rejoices, finally, as at a particular outpouring of this divine fatherhood on the 'little ones.' And the evangelist describes all this as 'rejoicing in the Holy Spirit....' That which during the theophany at the Jordan came so to speak 'from outside,' from on high, here comes 'from within,' that is to say, from the depths of who Jesus is. It is another revelation of the Father and the Son, united in the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks only of the fatherhood of God and of his own sonship—he does not speak directly of the Spirit who is Love and thereby the union of the Father and the Son. Nonetheless, what he says of the Father and of himself, the Son, flows from that fullness of the Spirit which is in him, which fills his heart, pervades his own 'I,' inspires and enlivens his action from the depths. Hence that 'rejoicing in the Holy Spirit'" (nn. 20-21).

4. This text of Luke, alongside that of John which gives the farewell discourse in the upper room (cf. Jn 13:31; 14:31), is particularly significant about the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the messianic mission of Christ.

In the synagogue in Nazareth Jesus had applied to himself the Isaian prophecy which began with these words: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me" (Lk 4:18). That "being upon him" of the spirit extended to all that he "did and taught" (Acts 1:1). As Luke writes, Jesus "returned (from the desert) to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all" (Lk 4:14-15); that and wonderment: "All spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth" (Lk 4:22). The same thing is said of the miracles and of the singular power of attraction of his personality. The entire crowd which "had come out (from all over) to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses...sought to touch him, because power went out from him which healed all" (Lk 6:17-19). How can we not recognize this also as a manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, given in fullness to him as man, to empower his words and actions?

Jesus taught others to ask the Father in prayer for the gift of the Spirit, trusting that what is asked for will be granted: "If you...know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Lk 11:13). When he preached to his disciples about the coming persecution, to be accompanied by imprisonment and interrogations, he added: "Do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the Holy Spirit" (Mk 13:11). "The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you are to say" (Lk 12:12).

5. The Synoptic Gospels report another statement of Jesus in his instructions to the disciples which is bound to make an impression. It is in regard to "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." He said: "Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven" (Lk 12:10; cf. Mt 12:32; Mk 3:29). These words create a vast theological and ethical problem greater than people think after having only superficially read the text. "The 'blasphemy' does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the cross.... If Jesus says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven either in this world or in the next, it is because this 'nonforgiveness is linked as to its cause to 'non-repentance,' in other words, to the radical refusal to be converted.... Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, then, is the sin committed by the person who claims to have a 'right' to persist in evil—in any sin at all—and who thus rejects redemption. One closes oneself up in sin, thus making impossible one's conversion, and consequently the remission of sins" (DViv 46). It is the exact opposite of that state of docility and communion with the Father in which Jesus worked and prayed and which he taught and recommended to people as an inner attitude and as a principle for action.

6. The totality of Jesus Christ's preaching and action flowed out of his union with the Holy Spirit. It contained an immense richness of heart: "Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls" (Mt 11:29). But at the same time all the power of the truth about the kingdom of God is present, and there also the insistent invitation to open the heart, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, in order to be admitted to the kingdom and not excluded from it.

All that reveals the power of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit himself with his presence and his action as Paraclete, human comforter, confirmer of divine truths, and uprooter of the "prince of this world."

[1]   Summa Theol., III, q. 40, a. 2, ad 2

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

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pani nasza Jasnogórska, w Twoim sanktuarium trwasz od wieków jak gdyby w pośrodku, w samym sercu Europy. Patrzysz na Polskę, naszą Ojczyznę, a równocześnie spotykają się przy Tobie w pielgrzymce wiary przybysze z różnych stron. Jako Matka Kościoła przodujesz im wszystkim w pielgrzymowaniu za Chrystusem, skądkolwiek przychodzą.

Zachód i Wschód Europy od zakończenia wojny rozdzielony i wzajemnie zamknięty, poprzez Ciebie szuka współnych korzeni. Są one wielkim dziedzictwem pierwszej ewangelizacji, która ukształtowała Europę, poszczególne narody, ich dzieje, ich kulturę w swym zróżnicowanym bogactwie.

Po Soborze Watykańskim II to ewangeliczne dziedzictwo domagało się nowych symboli. Symbolami stali się patronowie Europy: od Zachodu św. Benedykt - od Wschodu apostołowie Słowian, święci Cyryl i Metody.

Dzisiaj wszyscy czujemy, że to dziedzictwo domaga się odnowy.

Jesteś wśród nas, Matko z Jasnej Góry, jak kiedyś byłaś w wieczerniku pośród apostołów. I przyszedł Duch-Pocieszyciel, Duch Prawdy, który odnawia oblicze ziem i kontynentów. Uproś nam Jego przyjście na nową ewangelizację. Niech uczyni nas, jak uczynił apostołów, świadkami Tego, który jest Drogą, Prawdą i Życiem. Tego, który jest Pierwszy i Ostatni. Który jest nam Nadzieją, Jezusa Chrystusa.

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

A tous les pèlerins de langue française venus à cette audience, j’adresse un salut cordial. En particulier, j’offre mes vœux fervents aux Religieuses du Sacré-Cœur de Marie, qui célèbrent le centenaire de la mort du Père Jean Gailhac, leur fondateur. Je leur souhaite d’avancer toujours dans l’imitation des vertus du Cœur de Marie et d’accomplir leur apostolat avec beaucoup d’espérance. A tous, je renouvelle mes encouragements à être d’authentiques témoins du Christ et je donne de grand cœur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai pellegrini di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to greet the group of School Sisters of Notre Dame visiting Rome on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee of Religious Profession, and the Sisters of the Holy Union taking part in a programme of spiritual renewal. I welcome the pilgrims of the Maltese Union on their way to Lourdes. A special greeting goes also to the pilgrims from Nigeria. To the choir from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, in Rome with their Bishop, I express my gratitude for their praise of God in song. And upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially from England, Korea and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings and peace.

Ad alcuni visitatori provenienti dal Giappone

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Carissimi pellegrini guidati da Sua Eccellenza Monsignor Ishigami, gruppo di Rissho-koseikai (buddista) e gruppo Konko (buddista), desidero profondamente che il vostro viaggio in Europa contribuisca al dialogo ecumenico e così diventi un contributo al vostro paese e al mondo intero. Con questo auspicio vi benedico di cuore. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.

Ai fedeli di espressione tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher sehr herzlich. Ich wünsche Euch frohe, bereichernde und erholsame Tage in Rom. Euch und Euren lieben Angehörigen in der Heimat erteile ich von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai pellegrini giunti dall’America Latina e dalla Spagna

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo ahora muy cordialmente a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de América Latina y de España. En particular al grupo de sacerdotes franciscanos y a las Hermanas de la Caridad del Sagrado Corazón, a quienes aliento a una entrega generosa en el servicio al Evangelio. Igualmente saludo a los formadores y seminaristas del Seminario Menor “Don Orione”, de Palencia y a los jóvenes de los grupos musicales de la Universidad de La Salle de México y de Tijuana. Finalmente, a las peregrinaciones procedentes de San Juan de Puerto Rico, de Venezuela y de diversas ciudades españolas. A todos bendigo de corazón.

Ai numerosi pellegrini giunti dal Brasile

Amadíssimos irmãos e irmãs,

Aos peregrinos de São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro e aos de Brasília, que vêm acompanhados pelo Bispo Auxiliar Sua Excelência Reverendíssima Dom Geraldo do Espírito Santo Ávila, junto a todos os demais de língua portuguesa, como penhor de abundantes dons divinos que sirvam de estímulo para sua vida cristã, concedo benevolamente minha Bênção Apostólica.

Ad alcuni gruppi italiani

Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini e i gruppi di lingua italiana e in special modo i partecipanti al Corso di Pastorale Vocazionale, organizzato dal “Centro di Spiritualità Rogate”, sul tema: “Catechesi e vocazioni nella nuova evangelizzazione”. Vi auguro di vivere questi giorni in maniera intensa la fraterna comunione ecclesiale e di confermarvi sempre più nell’impegno delle vostre energie per la promozione delle vocazioni sacerdotali e religiose.

Un pensiero augurale anche ai partecipanti al “Festival della Collina” - promosso dall’Ente Provinciale per il Turismo e dall’Amministrazione Provinciale di Latina -, che raccoglie numerosi gruppi provenienti da varie nazioni: formo voti che tale incontro di diverse culture e tradizioni unisca e rafforzi la comprensione e la solidarietà reciproca, che sono alla base della giustizia e della pace fra i popoli.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

Saluto ora i Giovani, gli Ammalati e gli Sposi Novelli, presenti a questa Udienza. Rivolgo a tutti un invito a considerare la memoria che la Chiesa farà domani dei Santi Gioacchino ed Anna, genitori della Vergine Maria. Questa ricorrenza ci presenta quell’esemplare famiglia, in cui Dio ha preparato la nascita della Madre del Verbo incarnato. Sia questo argomento per voi giovani spunto di propositi importanti circa il progetto di vita che volete realizzare, specialmente quando pensate alla famiglia che dovrete formare. Invito, altresì, gli ammalati alla preghiera ed alla fiducia, nella consapevolezza che anche la sofferenza suscita valori forti in seno alle comunità che si amano. Rivolgo a tutti gli sposi novelli l’augurio che la loro famiglia sia luogo di santificazione, di preghiera, di intensa fede, così come lo fu la famiglia in cui nacque la Madre del Redentore. A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Appello in favore della popolazione della Liberia

Durante l’udienza generale il Santo Padre rivolge un appello in favore delle popolazioni della Liberia, provate dal lungo e sanguinoso conflitto che ha ora il suo epicentro nella capitale Monrovia. Queste sono le parole pronunciate da Giovanni Paolo II.

Domani, 26 luglio, ricorre il giorno della Festa Nazionale della Liberia. Purtroppo non potranno certamente esservi celebrazioni per tale ricorrenza. Come saprete, un’aspra guerra civile è scoppiata fin dal dicembre dell’anno scorso, portando lutti e distruzioni al Paese. La capitale Monrovia, che era stretta d’assedio dall’inizio di questo mese, è ora centro di sanguinosi scontri; possiamo immaginare le sofferenze della popolazione, sotto il terrore dei combattimenti e bisognosa del necessario per sopravvivere.

Vorrei chiedervi di unirvi alla mia preghiera per implorare dal Signore che ritorni la pace in questa cara Nazione africana e vengano alleviate le tribolazioni dei suoi cittadini. Chiediamo a Dio di illuminare le menti di coloro che hanno in mano le sorti del Paese perché, unicamente solleciti del vero bene dei loro connazionali, facciano prevalere la forza del dialogo su quella delle armi.

Che il Signore sostenga i validi sforzi di quella Chiesa locale, delle Organizzazioni internazionali e di quanti si adoperano per aiutare a risolvere il conflitto e assistere la popolazione tanto provata! Che la Vergine Santa avvalori con la sua intercessione la nostra preghiera!

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana