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Pentecost_Jean II Restout_c1732

Jean II Restout, c. 1732

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost when Holy Spirit descends on Mary, the Apostles, and other disciples of Jesus, just as He promised before His Ascension.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samar′ia and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:6-9 (emphasis added)

Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit was not just for His Apostles and disciples in the Upper Room. He continues to pour out His Spirit upon us and His Church today. He is also sending us out on mission to preach the Gospel of His saving work on the cross. He has equipped us with the Holy Spirit who will guide us in all knowledge and truth; “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things” (Jn 14:26).

The mission of the family is to evangelize other families. St. John Paul II in his epic Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), had this to say about the mission of the family:

The family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love…we must say that the essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love…the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride.[1] (emphasis added)

Is your family revealing and communicating love to a world that has forgotten the true meaning of the word? In a society that celebrates the self and using others for one’s own personal gain and satisfaction, there is a great need for holy families to witness to the true meaning of love.

Further on in Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II lays out the task of every Christian family:

To the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelizing community…“The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 71).[2] (emphasis added)

Family this is your mission!

Pope Benedict XVI affirmed the mission of marriage and family. “Marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization.”[3]

With these words, he opened the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. He explained that:

Matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the dechristianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming “one flesh” in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis. And it is not by chance. Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross. Today we ought to grasp the full truth of this statement, in contrast to the painful reality of many marriages which, unhappily, end badly.[4] (emphasis added)

In concluding his address to the Synod, Pope Benedict XVI said “there is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage.” Three years earlier, he characterized the crisis of faith as follows:

In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.[5] (emphasis added)

If we are going to change our culture, evangelization efforts need to start with the family. As Jesus sent out His Apostles and disciples, we are being sent out today to evangelize a world so in need of God’s love and mercy. We need not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel message to other families. Jesus has not left us alone. He has sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us in what we are to say and do. In the words of the great St. John Paul II…

Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his powerDo not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.[6]

[1] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, §17, November 22, 1982; internet: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_19811122_familiaris-consortio_en.html (accessed May 21, 2021).

[2] Ibid., 52.

[3] Benedict XVI, Homily for Holy Mass for the Opening of the Synod of Bishops, October 7, 2012; internet: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/homilies/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20121007_apertura-sinodo.html (accessed May 21, 2021).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Benedict XVI, Letter of his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, March 10, 2009; internet; https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090310_remissione-scomunica.html (accessed May 21, 2021).

[6] John Paul II, Homily of his Holiness John Paul II for the Inauguration of his Pontificate, 22 October 1978; internet: http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1978/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19781022_inizio-pontificato.html (accessed May 21, 2021).