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The glory of the Trinity in Pentecost

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the History of Salvation
General Audience, Wednesday 31 May 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The Christian Pentecost, a celebration of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, presents various aspects in the writings of the New Testament. We will start with the one we have just heard described in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles. It is the most obvious one in everyone's mind, in the history of art and in the liturgy itself.

In his second work, Luke situates the gift of the Spirit within a theophany, that is, a solemn divine revelation, whose symbols refer to Israel's experience at Sinai (cf. Ex 19). The roar, the driving wind and the lightening-like fire exalt the divine transcendence. In reality, it is the Father who gives the Spirit through the intervention of the glorified Christ. Peter says so in his address:  Jesus, "being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, has poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2: 33). At Pentecost, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, the Holy Spirit is "manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person.... On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed" (CCC, nn. 731-732).

2. The whole Trinity, in fact, is involved in the inbreaking of the Spirit, who is poured out upon the first community and upon the Church in every age as the seal of the New Covenant foretold by the prophets (cf. Jer 31: 31-34; Ez 36: 24-27), to support its witness and as a source of unity in plurality. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles proclaim the Risen One, and all believers, in the diversity of their languages and thus of their cultures and historical events, profess the same faith in the Lord, "telling ... the mighty works of God" (Acts 2: 11).

It is significant to note that a Jewish commentary on Exodus, recalling chapter 10 of Genesis, which sketches a map of the 70 nations which were then thought to comprise humanity as a whole, leads them back to Sinai to hear the word of God:  "At Sinai the Lord's voice was divided into 70 languages, so that all the nations could understand" (Exodus Rabba' 5, 9). So too in the Lucan Pentecost, the Word of God is addressed to humanity through the Apostles, in order to proclaim "the mighty works of God" (Acts 2: 11) to all peoples even with their differences.

3. In the New Testament, however, there is another account that we could call the Johannine Pentecost. In the fourth Gospel, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit actually takes place on the very evening of Easter and is closely connected to the Resurrection. In John we read:  "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you!'. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you'. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained'" (Jn 20: 19-23).

The glory of the Trinity also shines out in this Johannine account:  the glory of the risen Christ who appears in his glorious body, of the Father, who is the source of the apostolic mission, and of the Spirit poured out as the gift of peace. This fulfils the promise which Christ had made between these same walls in his farewell discourse to the disciples:  "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14: 26). The Spirit's presence in the Church is intended for the forgiveness of sins, for remembering and carrying out the Gospel in life, for the ever deeper achievement of unity in love.

The symbolic act of breathing is meant to recall the action of the Creator who, after forming man's body from the dust of the ground, "breathed into his nostrils" to give him "the breath of life" (Gn 2: 7). The risen Christ communicates another breath of life, "the Holy Spirit". Redemption is a new creation, a divine work with which the Church is called to collaborate through the ministry of reconciliation.

4. The Apostle Paul does not offer us a direct account of the outpouring of the Spirit but describes its fruits with such intensity that one could speak of a Pauline Pentecost, which is also marked by the Trinity. According to two parallel passages in the Letters to the Galatians and to the Romans, in fact, the Spirit is the gift of the Father, who makes us his adoptive children, giving us a share in the very life of the divine family. Paul therefore says:  "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!', it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom 8: 15-17; cf. Gal 4: 6-7).

With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can address God with the familiar name abba, the name Jesus himself used with his heavenly Father (cf. Mk 14: 36). Like him, we must walk according to the Spirit in profound inner freedom:  "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5: 22).

Let us end our contemplation of the Trinity at Pentecost with an invocation from the liturgy of the East:  "Come, peoples, let us adore the Divinity in three Persons:  the Father in the Son with the Holy Spirit. For the Father begets from eternity a coeternal Son who lives and reigns with him, and the Holy Spirit is in the Father, glorified with the Son, one power, one substance, one divinity.... Holy Trinity, glory to you!" (Vespers of Pentecost)."

After the Catechesis, Papa Giovanni Paolo II greeted the pilgrims in various languages:

I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Finland, South Africa, Singapore, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Je suis heureux d'accueillir les francophones présents ce matin, et je salue en particulier les officiers de la Gendarmerie nationale française. Avec Marie dont nous fêtons la Visitation, puissiez-vous reconnaître la présence du Christ dans vos vies, pour magnifier le Seigneur et être ses témoins parmi toutes les nations! Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique.

Mit diesen Gedanken grüße ich die zahlreichen Pilger und Besucher, die aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache nach Rom gekommen sind. Besonders heiße ich die Wallfahrer der Erzdiözese München und Freising unter Leitung von Weihbischof Franz Xaver Schwarzenböck willkommen. Außerdem grüße die Behinderten aus Brilon. Euch, Euren lieben Angehörigen daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, erteile ich von Herzen den Apostolischen Segen.

Saúdo com afecto os peregrinos de língua portuguesa de Portugal e do Brasil, com votos de paz e de união com Cristo, nossa Páscoa. A todos desejo que à luz do Senhor, se afeiçoem cada vez mais às «coisas do Alto», com a minha Bênção.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española. De modo especial a los sacerdotes del Colegio Mexicano y a las parroquias y grupos de España, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Panamá, México, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina y otros países de Latinoamérica. En este tiempo pascual del Gran Jubileo os bendigo de corazón. Muchas gracias.

Parole di saluto ai pellegrini croati

Srda…no pozdravljam hrvatske hodo…asnike iz Mettmana i Düsseldorfa u Njema…koj, te iz Zagreba, Varañdina i ostalih mjesta u Hrvatskoj.

Predragi, svima vama i vašima udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov.

Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua croata:

Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini croati provenienti da Mettmann e Düsseldorf in Germania, e da Zagabria, Varañdin ed altre località della Croazia.

Carissimi, imparto la Benedizione Apostolica a tutti voi ed ai vostri cari.

Siano lodati Gesù e Maria!

Saluto ai pellegrini slovacchi:

S láskou pozdravujem pútnikov zo Slovenska: z Michaloviec a Prešova, z Vrbového a Veµkých Uheriec, z Myjavy a Zvolena a tieñ z Cirkevnej školy svätého Vincenta de Paul z Levíc.

Drahí bratia a sestry, vám i vašim rodinám zo srdca udeµujem apostolské poñehnanie.

Pochválený bu‹ Jeñiš Kristus!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua slovacca:

Con affetto saluto i pellegrini della Slovacchia provenienti da Michalovce e Prešov, da Vrbové e Veµké Uherce, da Myjava e Zvolen, come pure dalla Scuola cattolica di San Vincenzo de' Paoli di Levice.

Cari Fratelli e Sorelle, imparto di cuore la Benedizione Apostolica a voi e alle vostre famiglie.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto del Santo Padre in lingua ungherese ai pellegrini ungheresi provenienti da Nádszeg:

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat, akik Nádszegrôl érkeztek. Isten hozott Benneteket!

Szívbôl adom apostoli áldásomat Kedves Mindannyiotokra.

Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua ungherese:

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini ungheresi da Nádszeg. Di cuore imparto a tutti voi la Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo !

Saluto ai pellegrini della Repubblica Ceca:

Milí poutníci z Olomouce-Klášterního Hradišt!

Kéñ na pÍímluvu svaté Zdislavy z Lemberka, jejíñ svátek jste v…era slavili, se nám dostane mnoha dobrých a solidních kÍesÙanských rodin.

Chavála Kristu!

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua ceca

Cari pellegrini di Olomouc-Klášterní Hradišt!

Possa l'intercessione di Santa Zdislava di Lemberk, la cui festa avete celebrato ieri, far accrescere il numero delle buone famiglie solidamente cristiane.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!

Saluto in lingua neerlandese:

Nu wil ik alle Belgische en Nederlandse pelgrims groeten.

Moge uw bedevaart in het Jubileumjaar uw christelijk leven verrijken, op voorspraak van Maria, Moeder van de Kerk.

Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen.

Geloofd zij Jezus Christus !

Versione italiana del saluto in lingua neerlandese

Adesso vorrei salutare tutti i pellegrini belgi e neerlandesi.

Auguro che il vostro pellegrinaggio nell’Anno giubilare arricchisca la vostra vita cristiana, per intercessione di Maria Santissima, Madre della Chiesa.

Di cuore imparto la Benedizione Apostolica.

Sia lodato Gesù Cristo !

Saluto ai Pellegrini dell’Arcidiocesi di Leopoli:

In modo particolare saluto i pellegrini dell’arcidiocesi di Leopoli presenti a questa udienza. Saluto il Pastore della Chiesa di Leopoli - l’Arcivescovo Marian Jaworski, il Vescovo ausiliare Stanislaw Padewski, i sacerdoti, le religiose e tutti i fedeli.

Venite a Roma, alle Tombe dei santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo Nell’Anno del Grande Giubileo, per esprimere per loro mezzo, la gratitudine a Dio prima di tutto per il dono della fede ricevuta nel santo battesimo e per chiederne il rafforzamento. Conoscete bene il valore di questo dono. Per decine di anni avete pagato la fedeltà a Dio con la sofferenza e con umiliazioni di vario genere, siete stati discriminati e avete subito dolorose persecuzioni. Con commozione penso a tutta la moltitudine dei laici e degli ecclesiastici, che ebbero il coraggio e la forza di perseverare fino alla fine accanto a Cristo e alla sua Chiesa, nonostante le prigioni, le deportazioni nei lager e nei campi di lavoro forzato. Quanti di loro pagarono con la vita questa fedeltà a Dio, alla Chiesa Cattolica e alla Sede Apostolica. Per questo atteggiamento la Chiesa ringrazia oggi voi e i vostri fratelli di Rito Orientale.

Vi prego, conservate profondamente nella memoria la testimonianza di questi martiri e trasmettetela alle generazioni che verranno. Essi, infatti, sono segno di quell’amore che non indietreggia di fronte a nessun pericolo, a nessun sacrificio. In questo modo essi si inscrivono nel grande patrimonio della Chiesa nei vostri territori. Questa loro testimonianza sia per voi modello e conforto sul cammino del nuovo millennio.

Cari fratelli e sorelle, la vostra presenza nella Città Eterna si ricollega alla tradizione iniziata dal Servo di Dio l’arcivescovo Jòzef Bilczewski, che spesso veniva in pellegrinaggio a Roma insieme ai suoi fedeli al fine di sottolineare il profondo legame di Leopoli con la Sede Apostolica. Rendiamo grazie a Dio Onnipotente perché questa bella usanza è stata ristabilita e questo incontro odierno lo testimonia. Vi voglio dire con vera commozione che mi rallegro per la vostra presenza in Piazza San Pietro e sono grato a tutti coloro che hanno preparato questo pellegrinaggio. Siamo infatti testimoni delle Grandi Opere di Dio e dei grandi segni della Divina Provvidenza. Per questo sia lode alla Santissima Trinità.

Il mio pensiero si rivolge alla Madonna delle Grazie. A Lei affido tutta l’Arcidiocesi. Sia sempre presente nella vostra vita. Vegli ed impetri presso il suo Figlio le grazie necessarie. Renda i cuori aperti all’ascolto della verità divina e al compimento della volontà di Dio.

Una volta ancora saluto cordialmente tutti coloro che sono qui presenti ed auguro che il Grande Giubileo dell’Anno 2000 vi rafforzi nella fede, consolidi la vostra speranza e animi l’amore sempre pronto a servire l’uomo.

Che Dio benedica voi e tutti i cari fratelli e sorelle della diletta arcidiocesi di Leopoli.

* * *

Saluto, ora, tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, rivolgo un cordiale pensiero ai fedeli dell'Arcidiocesi di Matera-Irsina, accompagnati dal loro Pastore, Monsignor Antonio Ciliberti, e quelli della Diocesi di San Marco Argentano-Scalea, guidati dal Vescovo Monsignor Domenico Crusco. Saluto, inoltre, i militari ed i civili dipendenti del Policlinico Militare "Celio" di Roma.

Saluto, poi, le Congregazioni di religiosi e religiose qui presenti, in special modo le partecipanti al Capitolo Generale delle Suore Francescane Missionarie di Gesù Bambino, gli Oblati Cistercensi del Monastero di Santa Maria in Cotrino ed il gruppo FAC proveniente dal Nord Italia accompagnato dall'USMI. Carissimi, grazie di cuore per la vostra visita. Il pellegrinaggio giubilare offra a ciascuno di voi la provvidenziale occasione di rinsaldare l'adesione a Cristo, rinnovando generosi propositi di testimonianza evangelica.

Saluto l'Associazione Nazionale Volontari Lotta contro i Tumori, gli organizzatori ed i partecipanti al Tour Motociclistico dell'amicizia "Roma-Capo Nord-Roma". Anche a voi un grazie di cuore per la vostra gradita presenza.

Mi rivolgo, infine, come di consueto, a voi, cari giovani, cari ammalati e cari sposi novelli. Concludiamo quest'oggi il mese di maggio ed il pensiero va spontaneamente a Maria Santissima, Stella luminosa del nostro cammino cristiano. Facciamo costante riferimento a Lei per trovare nella sua intercessione e nei suoi esempi ispirazione e guida sicura nel nostro quotidiano pellegrinaggio di fede.

Greeting to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lviv

I extend a particular greeting to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Lviv present at today's audience. I greet Archbishop Marian Jaworski, Metropolitan of Lviv, Auxiliary Bishop Stanislaw Padewski, the priests, religious and all the faithful.

1. You come to Rome, to the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul in the Year of the Great Jubilee, to express through them your gratitude to God above all for the gift of faith received in holy Baptism and to ask for it to be strengthened. You are well aware of the value of this gift. For decades you paid for your fidelity to God with suffering and various forms of humiliation; you were discriminated against and endured painful persecutions.

I am deeply moved in thinking of the great numbers of lay people and clergy who had the courage and strength to persevere to the very end on the side of Christ and his Church, depite imprisonment, deportation to concentration camps and forced labour. How many of them paid with their lives for this fidelity to God, to the Catholic Church and to the Apostolic See. Today the Church thanks you and your brethren of the Eastern rite.

I ask you to remember deeply the witness of these martyrs and to pass it on to the generations to come. For they are signs of that love which never shrinks from any danger or sacrifice. They are thus part of the Church's great heritage of faith in your lands. May their witness be an example and an encouragement to you on the path of the new millennium.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, your presence in the Eternal City is linked with the tradition started by the Servant of God Archbishop Józef Bilczewski, who often came on pilgrimage to Rome with his faithful to emphasize Lviv's deep bond with the Apostolic See. Let us thank almighty God that this beautiful custom has been restored, and today's meeting is proof of it. I would like to tell you with real emotion that I am delighted by your presence in St Peter's Square and am grateful to all who have prepared this pilgrimage. For we are witnesses to the great works of God and to the great signs of divine Providence. Praised be the Most Holy Trinity for this!

3. My thoughts also turn to Our Lady of Grace. I entrust your entire Archdiocese to her. May she always be present in your life. May she watch over you and implore from her Son the graces you need. May she open hearts to hearing God's truth and fulfilling his will.

Once again, I cordially greet all those who have come here and hope that the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will strengthen your faith, confirm your hope and fill you with a love that is always ready to serve others.

May God bless you and all your dear brothers and sisters of the beloved Archdiocese of Lviv. Praised be Jesus Christ!

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