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January 11, 2016

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the public release of St. John Paul II's landmark encyclical, Mission of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Missio). The great pope's legacy is diverse, but his emphasis on evangelization is one of its hallmarks.

Redemptoris Missio is notable for its emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit as "the principal agent of mission." This is not new teaching - the Acts of the Apostles gives lavish testimony to the Spirit's role in spreading the Gospel - but it is a new emphasis in recent times.

What is unique about Pope John Paul's approach is his conviction that the Spirit affects, not only the hearts of individuals, but also whole societies, peoples, cultures, religions and history itself. The Spirit transforms our world, even if that world often appears godless.

We have hope for everlasting life. Thanks to the Spirit, we also have hope that even the worst evils of humanity will be burnished and re-formed into something beautiful for God.