Jesus and the Baptism of the Spirit
From John Lee, Johannesburg – We Catholics understand our Christianity as a process rather than a “one-off experience”. However, we should be able to pinpoint a time, more or less, earlier on, when the Lord seemed to come closer and more alive, real and active in us.
Catholics in the charismatic renewal movement (in which 40 million Catholics worldwide are said to be involved), call this “the baptism”, or “release” of the Spirit — a time when the initial gift of the Spirit received at baptism and confirmation is “unwrapped”, or “released” in us.
I must admit that before I experienced this special grace in my life, my Catholic faith was mere “head faith”, or faith of the intellect. I knew “about” Jesus. There was no personal relationship.
St John Paul the Great said: “There are Catholics who have not experienced Christ personally, only the ‘values’ of the Gospel, instead of the living Lord, the Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
St Leo the Great, pope from 440-461AD, wrote: “Unless a man believes in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and accepts him as his own personal Saviour, the salvation offered to the whole of mankind will be of no avail to him.” Sobering words! It seems some may be saved, but as “baptised pagans”.
There is the “perennial Catholic heresy”, among some, which affirms: “Be good and God will love you”, and that you achieve salvation by your own grim efforts.
Saving faith in the Lord Jesus is what achieves salvation for us. Good works must appear, but as fruits of grace — to assist us in the ever-urgent work of evangelisation, not being embarrassed at spreading the Word to others!
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