KOTA KINABALU – More than 700 people together with the leaders of the Renewal from parishes over Sabah gathered for a one-day celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the land of Sabah at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Centre on 7 Jun 2014.
It was definitely an occasion worth celebrating and should indeed be a time of praise and thanksgiving to God for this wonderful ‘current of grace’ which has brought literally tens of thousands of people to a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ in our local region. (Pope Francis on Jun 1, 2014, at the celebration of the 37th Annual National Convocation of “Renewal in the Spirit” in Rome said: “You, Charismatic Renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord: you have been born from a desire of the Holy Spirit as a current of grace in the Church and for the Church. This is your definition: a current of grace.”
As we celebrate the 40 years of the “current of grace” of the Holy Spirit in our land, each and everyone of us who has been blessed in one way or another through the CCR, must also take this as an important time for reflection and renewal.
Reflection and Renewal
To help us in our reflection we need to ask ourselves whether the Renewal in our parish is growing or dying; whether we are still faithful to the gifts of the Holy Spirit as experienced in the CCR; whether we are letting the Holy Spirit lead or are we leading the Holy Spirit; whether Jesus is still the Lord of our life.
What is the Lord saying through the Holy Father
1. Share with all in the Church the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
In his address to the CCR at the ‘Renewal in the Spirit’ Convocation in Rome at Rome’s Olympic Stadium Jun 1, Pope Francis spoke of the first thing he expects from the movement, which is ‘conversion to the love of Jesus’ which changes life and makes of the Christain a witness of God’s love.
The Holy Father said: “I expect from you that you share with all, in the Church, the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit (expression that is read in the Acts of the Apostles).”
He also said: “I expect from you an evangelization with the Word of God which proclaims that Jesus is alive and loves all men.”
He believes that this renewed personal encounter with Jesus is both essential and necessary for everyone, without exception, thus he insistently issued this invitation to all in his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
2. Be Guided by the Holy Spirit
Pope Francis called on the CCR to continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit and “not to cage the Holy Spirit…” Pope Francis reminded the CCR never to make the mistake of trying to control the Holy Spirit: “Never lose the freedom that the Holy Spirit gives us, ….do not lose the grace of letting God be God!….You are dispensers of God’s grace, not controllers!” (Rome, 2 June 2014)
In his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelii Guadium’ Pope Francis forcefully reiterated:
“Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit.” (EG, 259)
3. Seek Unity in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal
Pope Francis also exhorted the CCR on the great importance of seeking unity within the Renewal: “Seek unity in the Renewal, because it is born of the Spirit and the unity of the Trinity….Flee from infighting, please! Make sure that there is none between you” (Rome, 2 June 2014)
Calling all in the CCR to unite in the Holy Spirit like the harmony in an orchestra he said: “No one in the Renewal must think they are more important than the other: please! Because if someone begins to think they are more important or greater, then the plague begin.” (Rome, 2 June 2014)
The Pope reminded everyone that in the CCR and the Church, there is only one head and he is the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Holy Father calls all in the CCR to strive towards that unity, so that together we can bring: “ …the great gift of diversity of charisms, the diversity that the Holy Spirit brings, to the service of the Church.”
4. Go forth to proclaim the Gospel
Pope Francis reminded the CRR that Pentecost was meant to move the Church to go forth: “Remember that the Church was born to go forth that morning of Pentecost. Be close to the poor and touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. So go forth onto the streets and evangelize, proclaim the Gospel.” (Rome, 1 June 2014)
The Holy Father defined the path of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit, and explained the future direction he hoped the CCR would take, as follows:
“Evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, attention to the poor and needy, and welcome the marginalized; and all this on the basis of adoration; the foundation of renewal is to adore God.”
Jesus began his ministry as one empowered by the Holy Spirit:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Let us pray that the Lord will give us a “New Pentecost” so that we may ‘go forth’ to proclaim the Joy of Gospel to the world! – Sabah CCR, Anthony Lim