As we look forward to celebrating the feast of Pentecost we find out more about the Holy Spirit and how He can help us today.
As I grew up I learnt a lot about Jesus, His life on earth and all the wonderful things that he did, His death on the cross and His Resurrection. I heard about God the Father, who seemed to be like a big jovial grand-father type figure who loves us all and wants the best for us. But the Holy Spirit was a bit of a mystery. He was often represented by tongues of fire or wind or the breath of God. He used to be called the Holy Ghost and that is how I used to think of Him. A sort of divine power that appeared occasionally in the Bible, which somehow spoke God’s words to the prophets and Holy men and women but it (I didn’t even think of the Holy Spirit as a person) was not relevant to my life.
How wrong I was. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Blessed Trinity. Equal in importance with God the Father and Jesus the Son. In the Gospels, towards the end of His ministry, Jesus spoke a lot about the gift of the Holy Spirit that His followers would receive after He had ascended to His Father. This is what happened at Pentecost when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. God came down to earth in a different form to Jesus and filled the hearts and souls of His disciples. This was wonderful news for the early church. They had just lost their beloved Jesus when He died on the cross but God visited them again in the form of the Holy Spirit, who promised to be with them always.
GOD WITH US
The Holy Spirit was not just for the first disciples, He is the God who is with all His people, so He is ours too! We receive the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and we are strengthened in the Sacrament of Confirmation. When we receive the Eucharist we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus but as God is Trinity, we also receive the Father and the Holy Spirit in Holy Communion. The Holy Spirit also gives us gifts like those mentioned in Isaiah 11 and also other supernatural gifts, sometimes called charisms that help us to build up God’s Kingdom. St Paul lists some of these in 1 Corinthians 12. They include extraordinary gifts of faith, healing, prophecy, teaching and administration.
We can try very hard but it is impossible to be a Christian without the help of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the inner strength to walk the Christian life, to become more like Jesus and to live his commandments. In our weakness the Holy Spirit makes us strong, He is our defender against the evil one who wants to lead us astray and He will make us more aware of the temptations of sin that are all around us and will give us the strength to fight against these.
The Holy Spirit knows the heart of God and is our guide showing us the path that God wants us to take. He may do this through an inner prompting of our spirit or through conversations with other faithfilled Christians. He sometimes even speaks to us in an audible way. The Holy Spirit can melt the stony hardness of our hearts and change us into the loving, compassionate people that God wants us to be. Jesus said that a good tree produces good fruit and when we are led by the Holy Spirit people will notice in us the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. They will experience our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22 – 26)
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” 1 Corinthians 6:19
THE POWER OF GOD
The Holy Spirit is the power of God in us. St Paul said that he had led many non-believers to the Church by displaying powerful signs and wonders. He said that everything that he had said and done was accomplished through the power of the Spirit of God. (Romans 15:18 – 19) Many people became Christians when they saw the miracles that the Holy Spirit worked through the early believers and the Church grew. The Holy Spirit has continued to move with power throughout the history of the Church inspiring the great Saints and Popes over the ages. Today He wants to be more powerful in our lives and to work great signs and wonders through us. This is possible, if we pray for healings and miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.
SUBMIT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
I have learnt that the Holy Spirit is just as important in our Christian lives as the Father and the Son, and He wants to be more active and work through us. Each morning we should submit ourselves to God by asking the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide our thoughts, words and deeds throughout the coming day. In this way He will lead us towards holiness and wholeness in our lives. Come Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity!