Redemptoris Missio 21: The Holy Spirit

Chapter III consists of ten numbered sections, all under the title of “The Holy Spirit: The Principal Agent Of Mission.”

In this weekend’s liturgy, Catholics look to the entirety of the Trinity. As much as we can conceive, or is preached and sung. The Holy Spirit remains misunderstood, misperceived, and a lot of Christians are unsure about that person. Pope John Paul II will help us a bit on this. Looking ahead to the topics he’ll cover in sections 21 through 30:

  • Sent Forth “to the end of the earth”
  • The Spirit Directs the Church’s Mission
  • The Holy Spirit Makes the Whole Church Missionary
  • The Spirit Is Present and Active in Every Time and Place
  • Missionary Activity Is Only Beginning

For today, we’ll read section 21, then offer a few comments, followed by any of yours. First up, the pope cited an earlier church document he penned:

“At the climax of Jesus’ messianic mission, the Holy Spirit becomes present in the Paschal Mystery in all of his divine subjectivity: as the one who is now to continue the salvific work rooted in the sacrifice of the cross. Of course Jesus entrusts this work to human beings: to the apostles, to the Church. Nevertheless, in and through them the Holy Spirit remains the transcendent and principal agent for the accomplishment of this work in the human spirit and in the history of the world.”(Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem (1986) 42)

This sums it up nicely. The voice and hands of human beings provide the work of salvation. Jesus started it. He hands it on to us. Shirking that mission suggests we doubt his wisdom on it. We need not be skeptics about it. The New Testament gives ample witness. Do you think fishermen, housewives, tax collectors and Pharisees were more qualified us? They were pretty effective, and we might benefit from their example and experience:

The Holy Spirit is indeed the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission. His action is preeminent in the mission ad gentes, as can clearly be seen in the early Church: in the conversion of Cornelius (cf. Acts 10), in the decisions made about emerging problems (cf. Acts 15) and in the choice of regions and peoples to be evangelized (cf. Acts 16:6ff). The Spirit worked through the apostles, but at the same time he was also at work in those who heard them: “Through his action the Good News takes shape in human minds and hearts and extends through history. In all of this it is the Holy Spirit who gives life.”(Ibid., 64)

Watching for the Spirit in the world: in our own calling, in our leaders, and looking back to the saints–this will all help us orient ourselves into alignment with the mission of Jesus, moving it forward.

This document is available online here and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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