As The Lord Breathes
Sunday of Pentecost, how the Spirit works in and through us, and how we respond
Happy Birthday Church!
We’d definitely hear a lot of this from our priests as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost.
But that’s beside the point of what I’ll be talking about. It’s more about how the Spirit working in and through us, and how we should respond.
I recall about five years ago, when I had to give a talk on the Holy Spirit to a group of young people, some 40–50 of them, if I remember correctly. I thought it’s time I also share it here, perfect for the Solemnity of Pentecost.
We live in a time of confusion, of wanton lifestyles, wherein validation is sought in the number of likes, comments, and shares (or retweets). We live in a time when we’re we have a laser focus on a lifestyle that’s so focused on physical beauty, on the seeming endless consumption of material things, on utter disregard for the world that we are living in.
We live in a time when ideologies seem to become the religion and faith of the people, to the point of hate and vitriol spewing like crazy on social media.
We live in a time when the world and the civilizations seem to be on the brink of collapse, as if all the values that we used to hold dear and what keeps us intact are now thrown away, and treated as signs of hate and bigotry.
But you see, almost two thousand years ago, there were a group of people who chose to follow a certain figure, and that enabled them to eventually possess a certain strength and boldness of character. It enabled them to hold on to a power that was beyond human comprehension, but still attracted them nonetheless. This same power which emboldened that first twelve people eventually led to many conversions, including the Emperor of Rome himself in 325AD, which resulted to the Edict of Milan, permanently establishing religious toleration for Christians within the Roman Empire.
Think about it, all this started with one figure empowering twelve insignificant men from various backgrounds: fishermen, tax collector, a supposed radicalist, and, even after Christ’s death, a persecutor whose first job is a tent maker.
So, who was it that made sure these twelve or so people to really do the work even after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension?
Human strength and intellect might play a role, but it will never be able to accomplish the sheer size of work cut out for them.
It is primarily the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit which first acted on the twelve is the same Spirit that is acting now on the Church, on the people who continue to strive the hardest to follow Christ through the Church.
The Holy Spirit continues to fill and transform the lives of so many Christians today.
The Holy Spirit, to be clear, is not the messenger of God, nor is it simply a dove (but it is visually represented as such). It is the love personified between the Father and the Son. This love that is so perfect between the Father and the Son is what brought forth the Spirit. It is not created, as if it is another being. It is what it is, a personification of that love that is complete, perfect, and lacks nothing.
He is whom Christ calls the Advocate, the breath the he himself blew on the Apostles while in the upper room, granting them the power to forgive sins, as seen in John’s account. Luke’s account, meanwhile talks of the Holy Spirit first felt by the Apostles as a strong blowing wind, followed by what appeared to be tongues of fire descending on them, filling them with the strength and audacity to step out and speak up on Christ, even to the point of speaking in different languages.
But, see, we cannot treat the Holy Spirit as if it were some magical power that is bestowed on us.
When the Spirit works in and through us, we are called to respond to its prodding. We are called to respond to its motion in us. We are called to cooperate. We are called to act.
To act is to live out the ways of Christian life: a life of charity and virtues. To act is to bear witness to the way of Christ, not just through mere words, but also in our actions.
To act is to be able to stand firm to the faith, and to do all things in love.
The Apostles from almost two thousand years ago did just that. Perhaps, now, at this very crucial precipice in our history, we are also being called to do the very same thing.
The Holy Spirit is blowing, but we have to be sensitive and open to receiving His call and prodding, and be courageous in speaking and acting.
There’s no better time to act on the Spirit but now.