Today, Sunday 23 May 2021, we are celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church. Today is the Church’s birthday. As from today the apostles and followers of Jesus did not look back but kept moving on till they gave their very lives for Him! Countless are their numbers both on earth and, especially, in Heaven and in Purgatory too to be cleansed from their stains of sin!
They could do such great things because they let the Holy Spirit work in and through them. Pope Francis gives us rich and profound teaching on Who the Holy Spirit is. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit because he is giving people the good news that God loves them and can renew, purify and transform their lives. The Holy Spirit assures that we are loved by God as his children, that we can love God as his children and with his grace we can live as children of God, like Jesus. That is why He is the living water that quenches the thirst in our lives. The Holy Spirit introduces people into divine life as children of God where they can live, as true children, in a relationship of intimacy, freedom, and faith in the love and mercy of God.
He is the living water. Hence, the Holy Spirit is a gift from the resurrected Christ who dwells in us, purifies us, renews us, transforms us so that we can share in the life of God who is love. How blessed people would be if they were to listen to the Holy Spirit! Certainly, they would hear him say, ‘God loves you.’ So, let us be guided by the Holy Spirit, allow him to speak to our hearts and he will tell us this: that God is love, he’s always waiting for us, he is a father who loves us like a real dad and only the Holy Spirit can tell our hearts this. In order to fruitfully discern his sweet yet powerful voice, we have to listen to the Holy Spirit who is inside us!
And what sort of answers does the Holy Spirit gives us when we talk to Him? He tells us that God is good, that God is a father, that he loves us and always forgives us. From this we can easily deduct that the Holy Spirit is God active in us and awakens our memory of how Christ redeemed us of our misery and sin. The Holy Spirit changes us from spectators to zealous co-workers of Our Lord Jesus Christ in his ongoing saving activity of the world! Hence, when we let the Holy Spirit truly work in and through us we cannot be “backseat Christians” or “couch-potato Christians”, cosy in our comfort zones – the Lord always wants us to move forward, forward, forward, and not take refuge in a comfortable, quiet life.
Since He is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Christ, … helps us recognize the Truth. He never let us by our own. On the contrary, He is by our side to support us in this journey of knowledge. One of the Holy Spirit’s specialities is that of wide opening the heart. Hence, since it is the heart that needs to be converted to God, … the Holy Spirit transforms it if we open ourselves to Him. At this point we need to ask sincerely: Are we open to the Holy Spirit, do I pray to him to enlighten me, to make me more sensitive to the things of God? If this prayer is so crucial do we not need to pray every day, every day: Holy Spirit may my heart be open to the Word of God, may my heart be open to good, may my heart be open to the beauty of God, every day?
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son come to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit is extremely practical. In fact, the truth of Christ, that the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives us, always and forever involves our daily lives. From here emerges the importance of invoke[ing] him more often, to guide us on the path of Christ’s disciples. Inasmuch as He is the strength of God, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to go forward but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar. How much we need to submit to the Holy Spirit, which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.
In front of such a challenging task let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Seemingly, the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts. However, all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth. This is so since the Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God. It is He who impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ.
The Holy Spirit is unique because He is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles. Having said that He wants that gift to reach everyone. With the Holy Spirit nothing remains status quo since He renews all things: He renews our heart, our life, and makes us live differently, but in a way that takes up the whole of our life. The Holy Spirit pulls out from our mediocrity! In fact, you cannot be a Christian of pieces, a part time Christian. In few words, being Christian ultimately means, not doing things, but allowing oneself to be renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis encourages you and me with these undying and reinvigorating words about the Holy Spirit: Don’t be afraid of the newness that the Holy Spirit works in us!
Patri Mario Attard OFM Cap