Starting afresh from Christ
This is how Chapter III of the Apostolic Letter of Pope St John Paul II, “Novo millenio inuente,” which he wrote as pastoral orientation for the third millennium that has just began is entitled.
In this period also, it is crucial to adapt the attitude of ‘new beginning’ which, as true and effective beginnings, it is necessary to be focused on living more consciously and radically the fullness of the times in which we find ourselves: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! (Gal 4:4-6).
Being conformed to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, growing up in the identity of sons in the Son, can only have a missionary connotation, because being Christians-as reiterated recently by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium- means being missionaries: «In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf.Mt 28:19). […] All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41). The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony” (Jn 4:39). So too, Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, «immediately proclaimed Jesus» (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for?» (EG 120).
What do we expect?
May be one could respond that he expects meeting Jesus. Comparing themselves with the testimonies of those who recount a strong experience, such people conclude that for them, they have not met Jesus yet, consequently, they feel justified in assuming a passive waiting attitude or, on the contrary, feel stimulated to search for him. The pope invites and encourages us to make up our mind to meet him: «I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms» (EG 3).
To reach out to him who has already reached me; to search for him who is revealed; to find him who has gone out to meet me; to long for him who burns of the thirst to make a spousal alliance with all and with everyone, together and personally. This intense movement of love in both directions – from the Father, through Jesus, to the soul and from the soul, through Jesus, to the Father – occurs only in the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary, the lovable Mother of the Word of God, the expert of docility to the Holy Spirit, with her constant and considerate intervention of intercession, absolves perfectly her mission as our Mother in the order of grace, obtaining for us the courage and joy of allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
The action of the Holy Spirit
One cannot have abundant experience of the Holy Spirit. Every person, by the fact of existing, is perverse; every creature is constantly sustained and animated by his divine vital warmth. We only need to start from here and look at our life from this perspective. It will not be difficult to notice the loving attention of the Father who has not hesitated to give the life of the Son to recapture our heart deceived by the principle of lie. And «when he came into the world, he said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me […] Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God» (Heb 10: 4ff). And also: «Here I dwell, for I desire it» (Ps 132:14).
The action of the Holy Spirit precedes us. It is He who opens our heart to meet Jesus who comes, who guides and accompanies us in the growth of our spousal relationship with Christ, and finally, he is the goal and fulfilment of the possibility to live in the fullness of our new identity of sons in the Son, life in the Spirit indeed. So, this new start, this starting afresh from Christ, welcoming him in our life made of these concrete choices in dealing with others and our desires, joys, and sufferings does not mean nothing other than allowing ourselves to be animated by the Holy Spirit who has become the soul of our soul, the sweet and strong interior visitor, the friend of every instant and enthusiasm, the smile and the courage to live the life in the gift of self. The meeting with Jesus can also not be perceived by us at the emotional level and this does not mean that it has not occurred; the feeling, certainly helps, just as on the other hand, can become an obstacle. The Holy Spirit leads us to growth in love, let’s trust him, let’s not limit him, dictating to him our own conditions, let’s not tie him, verifying his actions according to our own criteria and our expectations: his extra-ordinary and unimaginable masterpiece is to have brought in our midst and in us, the Word made flesh, Christ Jesus. We welcome this announcement with certainty: «He has loved us first and he continues to do so. […] He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first”, love can also blossom as a response within us. In the gradual unfolding of this encounter, it is clearly revealed that love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvellous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love» (Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, 17). «Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization» (EG 8). «Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit […] It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: it is He who impels each individual to proclaim the Gospel, and it is He who in the depths of consciences causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood. But it can equally be said that He is the goal of evangelization: He alone stirs up the new creation, the new humanity of which evangelization is to be the result, with that unity in variety which evangelization wishes to achieve within the Christian community» (Paul VI, Evangelii nutiandi, 75).