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The Spirit's greatest wonder is Christ

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Holy Spirit
General Audience, 28 March 1990 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. In earlier catecheses we showed how references and allusions to the existence of the divine Spirit appear throughout the Old Testament tradition. They appear almost as a prelude to the revelation given in the New Testament of the Holy Spirit as a person. We know that God inspired and led Israel's sacred writers, preparing the definitive revelation which was to be accomplished by Christ and given by him to the Apostles, so that they might preach and spread it throughout the world.

The Old Testament contains an initial and gradual revelation of not only the Holy Spirit, but also the Messiah-Son of God, his redeeming action and his kingdom. This revelation makes a distinction between God the Father, the eternal Wisdom proceeding from him, and the powerful and kindly spirit with which God works in the world from the creation and directs history according to his plan of salvation.

2. Doubtlessly this was not yet a clear manifestation of the divine mystery. But it was at the same time a kind of preparatory course for future revelation. God himself was carrying it out during the period of the old covenant through "the law and the prophets" (cf. Mt 22:40; Jn 1:45) and the history of Israel itself, since "omnia in figura contingebant illis." Everything in that history had a figurative and preparatory value for the future (1 Cor 10:11; 1 Pet 3:21; Heb 9:24). On the threshold of the New Testament we find some people—Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon, and above all Mary—who, thanks to the inner enlightenment of the Spirit, knew how to discover the true meaning of Christ's coming into the world.

The reference which the evangelists Luke and Matthew make to the Holy Spirit in regard to these very devout representatives of the old covenant (cf. Mt 1:18, 20; Lk 1:15, 35, 41, 67; 2:26-27), documents a link between and, we can also say, a passage from the Old to the New Testaments. This was later fully recognized in the light of Christ's revelation and after the Pentecost experience. The fact remains significant that the apostles and evangelists used the term "Holy Spirit" to speak of God's intervention both in the Incarnation of the Word and in the birth of the Church on Pentecost day. It is worth pointing out that in both events Mary the virgin mother is at the center of the portrait described by Luke—Mary who conceived Jesus by the action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35; Mt 1:18). With the apostles and the other first members of the Church, she remained in prayer expecting the very same Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14).

3. Jesus himself illustrated the role of the Spirit when he explained to the disciples that they would be able to penetrate the depths of the mystery of his person and mission only with the Spirit's help: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you to all truth" (Jn 16:13-14). Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit who lets people grasp the greatness of Christ and thus glorifies the Savior. But it is also the same Spirit who reveals his role in Jesus' life and mission. This is a point of great interest, to which I wish to direct your attention with this new series of catecheses.

If previously we have shown the wonders of the Holy Spirit announced by Jesus and experienced at Pentecost and during the initial journey of the Church in history, the time has come to accent the fact that the first and greatest wonder accomplished by the Holy Spirit is Christ himself. It is toward this wonder that we want to direct our attention.

4. We have already reflected on the person, life and mission of Christ in the Christological series. But now we can return briefly to that topic under the heading of pneumatology, that is, in the light of the action accomplished by the Holy Spirit within the Son of God made man. Treating the topic of the Son of God in catechetical instruction, one speaks about him after having considered God the Father, and before speaking of the Holy Spirit, who "proceeds from the Father and the Son." For this reason, Christology precedes pneumatology. And it is right that it is so, because even seen from a chronological standpoint, Christ's revelation in our world happened before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who formed the Church on Pentecost day. Furthermore, that outpouring was the fruit of Christ's redemptive offering and the manifestation of the power acquired by the Son now seated at the right hand of the Father.

5. Still a pneumatological integration with Christology seems to be inevitable—as the Orientals observe—by the fact that the Holy Spirit is found at the very origin of Christ as the Word Incarnate come into the world "by the power of the Holy Spirit," as the creed says.

In accomplishing the mystery of the Incarnation, there was a decisive presence of the Spirit, to the degree that, if we want to grasp and enunciate this mystery more fully, it is not enough for us to say that the Word was made flesh. We must also underline—as happens in the Creed—the Spirit's role in forming the humanity of the Son of God in the virginal womb of Mary. We will speak about this later. And we will attempt to follow the action of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of Christ: in his childhood, in the inauguration of his public life through his baptism, in his sojourn in the desert, in prayer, in preaching, in sacrifice and finally in resurrection.

6. A basic truth emerges from examination of the Gospel texts: what Christ was, and what he is for us, cannot be understood apart from the Holy Spirit. That means that not only is the Holy Spirit's light necessary for penetrating Christ's mystery, but the influence of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation of the Word and in the entire life of Christ must be taken into account to explain the Jesus of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit left the mark of his own divine personality on the face of Christ. Therefore, arriving at a deeper awareness of Christ demands also a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit. To know who Christ is and to know who the Spirit is are two indissolubly linked requirements, the one implying the other.

We can add that even the Christian's relationship with Christ is integrally joined to his or her relationship with the Spirit. The Letter to the Ephesians helps us understand this when it expressed the hope that believers may be "strengthened with power" by the Spirit of the Father in the inner man, in order to be able to "know Christ's love which surpasses all knowledge" (cf. Eph 3:16-19). That means that in order to reach Christ with our knowledge and love as happens in true Christian wisdom, we need the inspiration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the interior master of truth and life."


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

Ad un pellegrinaggio proveniente dalla Francia

Chers Frères et Soeurs,

Je souhaite la bienvenue aux personnes de langue française présentes à cette audience. En particulier, je salue les groupes de lycéens et de collégiens venus de Paris, de Neuilly, de Tours, de Semur-en-Auxois et d’autres régions de France. Je les encourage à se mettre à l’école de l’Esprit Saint pour mieux connaître le Christ et à bien prendre leur place de pierres vivantes dans l’Eglise.

A tous, je donne de grand coeur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

A numerosi pellegrini di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to welcome all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience. I am particularly grateful to the members of the Ely Cathedral Choirs and the other choir and musical groups who have helped us to lift up our hearts to God in joy and praise. My greetings go to the many pilgrims from England and the United States, as well as those from Denmark, Sweden and Korea. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings of grace and peace.

Ad alcuni pellegrini di espressione tedesca

Liebe Schwestern und Brüder!

Mit dieser kurzen Betrachtung grüße ich herzlich alle deutschsprachigen Pilger und Besucher, unter ihnen besonders die Teilnehmer an der Rom-Wallfahrt des Schweizerischen Sakristanverbandes sowie eine pilgergruppe von Ordensrittern vom Heiligen Grab zu Jerusalem aus Osnabrück. Ich wünsche Euch allen geistlich reiche Tage in der ” Ewigen Stadt “ und erteile Euch und Euren Familien sowie den mit uns über Radio Vatikan verbundenen Hörern für Gottes treuen Schutz und Beistand von Herzen meinen Apostolischen Segen.

Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!

Ad un gruppo di cattolici giapponesi

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Dilettissimi pellegrini provenienti da Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hiroshima e da ogni altra parte del Giappone.

Sono molto lieto che nella Chiesa giapponese si è iniziato il cosiddetto movimento “ Nice ”.

Ora, carissimi cattolici giapponesi, come gli Apostoli hanno potuto diffondere il regno di Dio con l’aiuto e la presenza della Madonna, così dovrete fare anche voi: pregare e lavorare strettamente uniti alla Madre di Dio.

Con questo auspicio vi imparto la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Ai fedeli dell’America Latina e della Spagna

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Saludo cordialmente a los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas, así como a los diversos grupos de América Latina y España, a quienes agradezco su presencia en esta Audiencia. De modo especial, me es grato saludar a las Religiosas Escolapias y a las Hijas de Jesús, a las que, como recuerdo de su presencia en Roma, aliento a mantener inquebrantable la fe, viva la esperanza y solícita la caridad; así seréis lámparas ardientes en la Iglesia y en el mundo.

Dirijo también mi más afectuoso saludo a las alumnas de las Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, de Córdoba y a las del Colegio “ Mater Salvatoris ” de Aravaca (Madrid), así como a los estudiantes del Instituto “ Angel Ganivet ”, de Granada, y del Colegio-Liceo de “ San Fernando ” (Cádiz). En vosotros, amadísimos jóvenes, veo el rostro de tantos coetáneos vuestros de España que me acompañaron en mi peregrinación a Santiago de Compostela el pasado mes de agosto. Os recuerdo, lo que ya dije en aquella ocasión; si Jesús, el Amigo por excelencia de la juventud, se presenta a la puerta de vuestros corazones para deciros: “ Seguidme ”, no tengáis miedo; decidle “ sí, Señor ”. El os recompensará abundantemente.

A vosotros y a todos los aquí presentes de lengua española, imparto complacido mi Bendición Apostólica.

A gruppi di lingua portoghese

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

Saúdo e desejo felicidades aos que me escutam, numa frutuosa preparação quaresmal, para as alegrias da Páscoa do Senhor.

Ai connazionali polacchi

“Nie samym chlebem żyje człowiek, lecz każdym słowem, które pochodzi z ust Bożych”.

Słowo, które pochodzi z ust Bożych, jest słowem prawdy. Człowiek żyje prawdą. Nie może żyć wbrew prawdzie. Nie może żyć bez prawdy.

Wiemy z naszego doświadczenia, że to, co buduje si “ wbrew prawdzie ”, zawsze jest tylko przemocą, a nie jest rzeczywistą mocą człowieka.

W czasach takiej szczególnej przemocy opieranej na nieprawdzie stawał na wałach jasnogórskich, Maryjo, Twój sługa, Prymas Tysiclecia, ażeby głosić słowo, które pochodzi z ust Bożych. Całą jego siłą był Chrystus, który po to się narodził i po to przyszedł na świat, aby dawać świadectwo prawdzie. Nie miał innej władzy i nie chciał innego królestwa. Chrystus przed Piłatem, Chrystus - wobec tylu Piłatów ludzkiej historii.

Dziś pragniemy podziękować Tobie, Matko Chrystusowa, za to, że okazała się niemoc kłamstwa. Za to, że toruje sobie droge prawda, Która jest mocą człowieka.

I pragniemy Ci dziękować za wszystkich ludzi w Polsce i u pobratymców, i w Europie, i wszędzie - za wszystkich tych, którzy oparli się przemocy wbrew prawdzie. Za wszystkich tych, których mocą stała się prawda.

Za wszystkich i za każdego.

“Pan dał moc swemu ludowi”.

Prosimy za Twym pośrednictwem, Matko Słowa Wcielonego, aby Pan zawsze dawał swemu ludowi tę moc, która jest z prawdy!

Pozdrawiam przybyszów z Polski, w szczególności ks. biskupa Materskiego, ordynariusza sandomiersko-radomskiego, a także grupę esperantystów oraz innych pielgrzymów zarówno z kraju, jak i emigracji.

Ai diversi gruppi di lingua italiana

Accolgo con gioia e saluto i numerosi delegati della Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane Alberghi e Turismo (FAIAT), riuniti in assemblea per ricordare il 40º anniversario della loro fondazione. Cari fratelli, vi ringrazio per la vostra visita e vi invito a far sì che la vostra attività professionale e sociale sia sempre vivificata dal calore dell’accoglienza umana e cristiana, memore dell’insegnamento di Gesù, il quale ha affermato che quanto viene fatto al prossimo è fatto a Lui stesso.

Do pure il mio cordiale benvenuto ad un gruppo di medici impegnati nel servizio dei più poveri e nell’attività missionaria. Possa la vostra opera contribuire alla crescita del Regno di Dio nel mondo e testimoniare costantemente, attraverso la cura amorosa dei sofferenti, la speranza che vi rende gioiosi testimoni del Vangelo di Cristo.

Ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli

Rivolgo a voi, giovani, ragazzi e ragazze il mio saluto particolarmente affettuoso. La vostra presenza all’Udienza Generale è segno di fede e di testimonianza cristiana e io sono profondamente lieto di incontrarvi e rivolgervi una parola di esortazione. Mentre insieme percorriamo il cammino quaresimale verso la Pasqua, vi ricordo il messaggio spirituale che la Liturgia odierna ci affida: “Chi ascolta la mia parola e crede in Colui che mi ha mandato, ha la vita eterna” (Gv 5, 24), ed ancora: “Paziente e misericordioso è il Signore, buono verso tutti; la sua tenerezza si espande su tutte le creature! Il Signore è vicino a quanti lo invocano, a quanti lo cercano con cuore sincero!” (Sal 145, 8-9. 18). Cari giovani, ricordate che la vostra giovinezza ha bisogno di nutrirsi della parola di Dio per poter crescere in umanità e nella vita divina. Approfittate di questi giorni che ci separano dalla Giornata Mondiale della Gioventù che celebreremo la domenica delle Palme per approfondire questo appello interiore che Dio vi rivolge in modo da costruire il vostro futuro con Lui che conosce bene il vostro cuore. Confidate sempre nel Signore, seguendo gli insegnamenti di Cristo e della sua Chiesa!

E voi, cari Ammalati, abbiate fiducia nell’Amore di Dio e nella sua Provvidenza, perché Egli non dimentica nessuno (cf. Is 49, 15) e in Lui ognuno trova il significato della propria vita. Anzi, quanti si abbandonano in Lui sono sorretti nella prova e scoprono anche nel mistero del dolore la divina chiamata alla gioia e alla vita. Accompagni tutti voi la mia speciale Benedizione!

A voi sposi novelli, il mio cordiale saluto. Sia sempre viva in voi la coscienza della missione di apostoli dell’Amore, affidatavi da Cristo nel sacramento del Matrimonio. Con la reciproca fedeltà e l’impegno a fare della vostra famiglia una “Chiesa domestica”, rendete visibile la tenerezza con cui Dio accoglie ogni uomo e lo circonda con la sua carità. A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

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