Gospel Jn 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
ANNOUNCE THE GOSPEL WITH ZEAL!
There is a word used in the New Testament to define how the first apostles and disciples of Christ announced the Gospel. Once they had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: they preached and taught “all about the Lord Jesus Christ with all ‘parrhesia’, without any hindrance» (Acts 28:31). Parrhesia is a Greek word that is formed from the words pas, which means “everything” and rhesis, which means “speech”. Therefore, parrhesia means the freedom to speak, ie speaking everything that you need to say without being quiet or without fear or dread. Parrhesia is the courage to announce and to talk about Jesus without any fear.
The first apostles and disciples of the Lord experienced a dramatic change when the Holy Spirit descended upon them as tongues of fire. After the crucifixion of the Lord, they were living in hiding because of their “fear of the Jews” (Jn 20:19); however, once they received the Holy Spirit, they spoke boldly about the marvels done by God through Jesus Christ. After this event, neither contempt, threats, torture, prison, or persecution could prevent them from announcing the Gospel to everyone! Nothing could stand in their way of accomplishing the mission they received from the Lord: “As the Father sends me, I also send you “(Jn 20:21)…“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).
How do I respond to the Lord’s request and appeal today? Do I announce the Lord with parrhesia; or am I quiet or timid out of fear in a situation where I should demonstrate my faith? Do I hide my faith and live a “private faith” out of fear of what others might say? If the Lord is truly the light and joy of my life; it is of utmost importance that I understand He is for others as well, and that from this springs forth a natural desire to share Him. Indeed, we have must have the courage to proclaim Christ in an environment that is increasingly secular and hostile to faith. The courage that we need can be found in the Holy Spirit! His gift of courage is that which ignites the apostolic ardor in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the fire (see Acts 1:8) that motivates us to proclaim with parrhesia to all men and women that “Christ is Lord!”.
1. Remember that no one can give what he does not have. If the fire of the Holy Spirit does not burn in your own heart, how can you ignite it within the hearts of others? If I do not find within myself the ardor to courageously announce the gospel—it is because I have not let myself been filled with the Holy Spirit. It is because I lack an intimate and radical relationship with Him. Therefore, I should be concerned about possessing an intense spiritual life, a life of an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, for only then will my heart burn with the fire driving me with a fearless daring for the apostolate. Pray daily. Do other spiritual activities consistently to help you remain in union with the Holy Spirit, such as: visiting the Blessed Sacrament, reading spiritual books, reading the Bible, praying the rosary, doing a daily examination of conscience, and so on.
2. Fear makes us fall quiet when we should speak; hide when we should shine; or retreat when we should move forward. Because of fear, we look for “valid excuses” to justify our silence and indecisiveness in the apostolate: “I can’t”, “I am not prepared”, “I’m unworthy”, “I have no time”, etc. None of these excuses are valid since God assures us of His presence and divine assistance: Ex4:10-12; Is 6:5 to 8, Jer 1:7 to 8. When you stand before an apostolic need and experience the fear and desire of giving up or falling quiet, implore the Holy Spirit for courage and proceed with bravery! Take up the challenge! Witness your faith whenever necessary! Announce your faith without fear or anxiety! Meditate on Mt 10:19 to 20.
Let’s be SAINTS!!!!
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