Trusting in the Holy Spirit, we can face each day with joy, optimism
The early Christians were outstanding for their unity and charity. Pagan writers were impressed: “See how they love one another.” While unity and charity should also distinguish us, we might also be noted for our optimism and hope. It is not that we don’t have our share of crosses, sufferings, and challenges. However, we live with the assurance that God never abandons us. God remains with us and empowers us to bear any challenge that comes our way with peace and serenity.
At the Last Supper, the apostles were deeply saddened when Jesus told them that it was time for Him to leave them. Jesus then assured them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in Me.” Jesus promised the apostles that He would not leave them orphans. “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…Whoever loves Me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling place with him…The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:15, 23, 26)
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He commissioned His apostles to carry His saving Gospel to the ends of the earth. However, He enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard Me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts: 4-5)
Like you and I, the apostles had many human weaknesses, limitations, and apprehensions. They could not see themselves passionately proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus and the values of His Gospel to a skeptical and even hostile audience. They understood well their great need for the power of God to meet the challenges Jesus gave them.
At Pentecost, the apostles became changed men. The Holy Spirit descended upon them and empowered them to overcome their fears and anxieties. Transformed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles boldly proclaimed in the streets of Jerusalem and beyond that Jesus is indeed Savior and Lord and that He alone is the way to reconciliation, peace, and salvation.
In Baptism, our sins were forgiven. Even more, we were made members of the living Body of our Risen Lord. Jesus shared with us the life and love of God and gave us the mission He entrusted to the apostles, namely, to share with others the Good News of His love, the destiny He gained for us through His suffering, death, and resurrection, and the way to attain salvation.
Despite our human weaknesses and temptation to self-absorption and sin, we can be all that Jesus wants us to be and do all that Jesus desires us to do. We are never alone. In Baptism, we become temples of the Holy Spirit. Through Confirmation, we receive the full outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. There is no need to be paralyzed by our fears, weaknesses, and limitations.
Trusting in the Holy Spirit and calling upon the Holy Spirit in all of our needs, we can get out of bed every morning with joy and optimism to meet the challenges and temptations that come our way. We can turn every obstacle into an opportunity to spread more forgiveness, peace, love, and hope to those we meet throughout the day. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that the Holy Spirit motivates us to act, not because we are compelled or out of fear, but rather out of love. St. Thomas instructs us: “The Holy Spirit leads the children of God in freedom through love, not by compulsion through fear.”
The Holy Spirit helps us grow more and more into the likeness of Christ, configuring our mind and heart to His. As we mature in our appreciation of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, we can more freely and lovingly put our lives in God’s hands and our trust in His love. We need not even consider death as an enemy but a friend.
The Feast of Pentecost, which we celebrate this weekend, brings to a close our 50-day celebration of the Easter season. This is a good time for us to recall that Jesus is, indeed, risen and exalted at the right hand of the Father. However, He chooses to remain present on earth through us who are His living Body. More than that, He remains present within us through His Holy Spirit who empowers us to grow ever deeper in God’s love and to share joyfully and confidently the life and love of God with others.