Having last week completed his catecheses on the “Our Father”, Pope Francis began a journey through the Acts of the Apostles at his May 29, 2019, General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. His theme: “To them, He presented Himself alive . . . and He charged them . . . to wait for the promise of the Father” (Biblical passage: From the Acts of the Apostles 1:3-4).
In fact, the Holy Father referred to the Acts of the Apostles as speaking to readers of a journey – “the journey of the Gospel in the world. And Francis explained that the book “shows us the wonderful union between the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, which inaugurates the time of evangelization.
“The protagonists of the Acts are in fact a vivacious and effective ‘couple’: the Word and the Spirit…The Word of God runs, it is dynamic, it waters every terrain on which it falls.”
The Holy Father explained that there is a force that makes the Gospel effective. It isn’t the use of great rhetoric, good speaking. No, it is the result of the Holy Spirit, the “dynamic” of God.
“For example, in the Bible, there are stories, human words, but what is the difference between the Bible and a history book?,” the Pope asked. His answer: ” The difference is that the words of the Bible are taken from the Holy Spirit who gives a very great force, a different force, and who helps us so that that word is seed of sanctity, seed of life, effective.
“And we’ll see this, in the course of these catecheses, in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. He who gives vibrant and incisive sonority to our very fragile human word, capable even of lying and escaping from one’s responsibilities, is solely the Holy Spirit, through whom the Son of God was generated; the Spirit that anointed and sustained Him in the mission; the Spirit thanks to whom He chose His Apostles and guaranteed to them proclamation, perseverance, and fruitfulness, as He also guarantees it today to our proclamation.”
Pope Francis recalled that the Gospel ends with the resurrection, from which point the Acts of the Apostles take up the story. Written by Luke, the Acts share the “proofs” of the Risen Jesus that demonstrate that his resurrection was real. Jesus invited the apostles to be confident in waiting for their baptism with the Holy Spirit.
“Baptism in the Holy Spirit is, in fact, the experience that enables us to enter into a personal communion with God and to participate in His universal salvific Will, acquiring the gift of the parrhesia, the courage, namely, the capacity to pronounce a word ‘as children of God,’ not only as men, but as children of God: a limpid, free, effective word full of love for Christ and for brothers,” Francis said. “Therefore, there is no struggle to earn or merit God’s gift. All is given gratuitously and in its time. The Lord gives all gratuitously. Salvation isn’t purchased, it’s not paid for: it’s a free gift.”