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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

GENERAL AUDIENCE: BE COURAGEOUS WITNESSES OF THE GOSPEL

Vatican City, 22 May 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated his Wednesday general audience catechesis to the Holy Spirit, without whom, “the Church could not live or carry out the mission that Jesus has entrusted us with, of going out and making disciples of all nations. Evangelisation is the Church's mission, not just of a few, but my, your, our mission. … To evangelize, then, it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the action of God's Spirit, without fear of what He might ask us or where He might lead us. Let us entrust ourselves to him. He will enable us to live and to bear witness to our faith. He will illuminate the hearts of those we meet. This was the experience of Pentecost: of the Apostles gathered with Mary in the Upper Room.”

The Holy Spirit, descending upon the Apostles, makes them go out of the room in which they had locked themselves out of fear. He makes them go out of themselves and transforms them into heralds and witnesses ' of the mighty acts of God'. This transformation, wrought by the Holy Spirit, is reflected in the crowd that rushed to the scene, coming 'from every nation under heaven' so that each might hear the Apostles' words as if they were proclaimed in their own language.”

This is the first important effect of the Holy Spirit … unity, communion.” … At Pentecost, these divisions [the confusion of languages as in the Biblical story of the tower of Babel] are overcome. …A new language, that of the love that the Holy Spirit 'pours out into our hearts' [is established]. … We must all ask ourselves: how am I letting myself be guided by the Holy Spirit so that my life and my witness to the faith might be of unity and communion? … What am I doing with my life?” Pope Francis asked, raising his voice. “Am I creating unity? Or am I dividing, with my gossip, criticism, and jealousies? What am I doing? Let's think about this.”

A second effect of the Holy Spirit's action, the pontiff continued, “is the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel of Jesus to all, frankly and out loud, in every time and in every place. … Let us never close ourselves to this action! Let us live the Gospel with humility and courage. … Evangelising, proclaiming Jesus give us joy.”

I will just mention a third element, which is particularly important, however: a new evangelisation, a Church that evangelises must always begin from prayer, from asking, as did the Apostles in the Upper Room, for the fire of the Holy Spirit. Only a faithful and intense relationship with God allows us to go out of our own closures and announce the Gospel with 'parrhesia' (boldly).”

Before concluding, Pope Francis recalled the words of Benedict XVI: “Today the Church 'feels the wind of the Holy Spirit who helps us, who shows us the right road; and so, we are on our way ... with new enthusiasm' … Let us renew each day our trust in the Holy Spirit's action. Let us let ourselves be guided by him. Let us be men and women of prayer who witness to the Gospel with courage, becoming instruments of God's unity and communion in our world.”

At the end of his catechesis the Holy Father greeted the nearly 50,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square. He particularly encouraged everyone to pray for the victims, especially the children, of the disaster that occurred in Oklahoma, USA.

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