Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Acts 1:8 Receive Power

Acts 1:8 Receive Power
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses

This scripture was the theme for World Youth Day 2008
This passage occurs after the death and resurrection of Jesus, just before his ascension to the Father. It represents the birth of the Church. (from

Sent Out into the World: the Holy Spirit, the Principal Agent of Mission

How many of you can claim, by your actions, to have knowingly brought someone closer to Jesus Christ and the Church?

I could go on and on about the excuses we make for not evangelizing. But let's go straight to the heart of the matter: We are, all of us, called to be Apostles. That's our vocation. That's our right and our duty. In a sense, evangelizing is in our Christian DNA from the moment we received the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and our Confirmation, We need to understand that those sacramental moments were our own Pentecost. We've not only been sent but, like the original Apostles, we're empowered to preach the Good News, to become Apostles ourselves. Don't forget this: We have already had our own Pentecost.

The word "Apostle", comes from the Greek apostolos which means "one who is sent forth;" someone who is entrusted with a mission. It has a stronger sense than the word "messenger." It actually means something closer to a "delegate." An Apostle, therefore, is a delegate of Christ: not someone who speaks about a particular doctrine or delivers a message, but someone who gives testimony of something he or she has experienced.

Hardships and even persecution come with "the territory" of being an Apostle. We live in a world that sees suffering as a curse to be avoided at any price. But remember Jesus' warning that hardships, rejection and persecution by the world can't be avoided. I'm sometimes amazed at the discouragement I find in otherwise motivated Catholics — and sometimes in myself — when real obstacles and challenges make the Christian life difficult. These sufferings are precisely God's sign that his followers are doing the right thing. You and I should feel encouraged, not defeated, by the trials that inevitably come our way.

In his novel Lord of the World, the great British author and convert Robert Hugh Benson describes the Anti-Christ as someone who has invented a new "painless" world religion and even a new technique of prayer that takes only minutes and very little effort. Benson's point is clear: If faith is painless and quick, just the way today's culture wants things to be, then it cannot be genuinely Christian. It comes from the devil.

Never lose your focus on this truth: Jesus is always there for you.
After 38 years of ministry as a priest, I can assure you that Jesus never fails; He never fails.

One of those great challenges, all over our world, but especially inside our Church and among our young people, is a fear of offending the world.
Pope John Paul gave us the antidote to this paralyzing disease: "Open wide the doors to Christ!" To open wide our lives to Christ means to let the Holy Spirit act in us, to bring us the grace we need to be courageous. Just look at the Bible's description of Pentecost. The passage begins by telling us that the Apostles were hiding "for fear of the Jews." It ends with an outpouring of courage and joyful preaching, understood in all imaginable languages. What a transformation! And that transformation is within our own reach, because we have already received the Holy Spirit. It's only our fear that prevents God from unleashing all his power in our lives.

Being brave does not mean being blind to the dangers we face, or ignoring the pain of being mocked or attacked. Being "unafraid" does not mean pretending not to fear. Being brave means overcoming our fear with the strength of the Holy Spirit, just as St. Paul and all the great Christian missionaries did, because proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ is worth any cost.

Pay attention to this reflection Pope Benedict made about St. Paul and suffering in our own Christian life: "The call to become the teacher [of] people is at the same time also intrinsically a call to suffering in the communion of Christ, who has redeemed us through his Passion. In a world where falsehood is so powerful, the truth is redeemed through suffering. Whoever wants to avoid and keep away suffering keeps away life itself and its greatness; he cannot be a servant of the truth and therefore a servant of the faith. There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of self-renunciation, transformation and purification of the self by the real truth. Wherever there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself loses its value."

I pray with all my heart that the Holy Spirit will awaken and unleash in you his joy and power, so that you may go out from this World Youth Day renewed, strengthened and encouraged to become apostles of Jesus Christ.

Source: by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. Talk given to all youth at one of the many events at World Youth Day in Sydney

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