“The Purpose of the Holy Spirit and Our Response”
Pentecost is not just the celebration of a past event. Pentecost is important for us today because the Holy Spirit is important for us today! The Spirit is like the air we breathe, the light that goes on when we have an idea, the fire that burns in our heart. And so, the Scriptures use these symbols to help us know the Spirit.
There are two primary purposes of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, given to us in the Gospel today. And I believe each purpose carries with it a needed response from us, the community.
- The first purpose of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Jesus.
We have seen this function carried out before in the gospels by others sch as John the Baptist, the Samaritan Woman, etc. But this is a new function for the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed over the Disciples on that first Pentecost giving them the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that they, as a community, could then bear witness to Jesus. This community of believers had been with him for 3 years now, they knew him, they watched him suffer, they saw him after the resurrection, they ate and drank with him, they heard his teachings, and witnessed him physically ascend to Heaven to be with his Father, after promising to give us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
- Our Response to the first purpose of the Holy Spirit:
Each of us have received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have been baptized into the faith and received the Holy Spirit and at our Confirmation the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were sealed upon us. How do we respond daily to these gifts we have received?
The Spirit gives different gifts to different members of the Church so we can help each other to know and experience God and God’s love. If we want to experience the fullness of the Spirit, we need each other, we need to come together, to worship together, to share our gifts with one another. Without the Spirit we are trying to breathe without air, think without light, love without fire.
Shortly I will select names of our parishioners who have discerned how best to use their gifts for the good of our community by serving on our Parish Pastoral Council. Others, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have discerned and responded as Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Greeters, Sacristans, serving the Poor, reaching out to our larger community, decorating our church, providing music to enhance our liturgies – all of this is because we are open to the Holy Spirit at work in our lives – and the discernment of the Spirit!
- The Second Purpose of the Holy Spirit is to guide the believers into the way of truth!
The Holy Spirit is given not just to individuals but also to the entire community. It will be the Spirit that allows this community to see and understand the truth of God’s revelation in Jesus in new and creative ways. This is how the Community of Believers will be able to move into the future with confidence and Hope! The gifts of the Spirit include some personal talents, but they tend to be more oriented toward building up the community of believers such as the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord, as well as healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirit, teaching, pastoring and a whole lot of other ways to help us minister to one another. But the Spirit also leads us and guides to know our faith, through Scripture, our Catechism, and precepts of the Church. The Spirit was given to the Church to guide and direct it and to help it to grow into the ages.
- Our response to the Second Purpose of the Spirit:
There are some questions we could pose to ourselves on our response to the second purpose:
- Do I continually open myself up to be led by the Spirit in new and creative ways or do I continue to remain stuck in what I learned of my faith as a child?
- Do I periodically read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church to continue to be enlightened and educated on my faith?
- How much time in my life is dedicated to reading Sacred Scripture, daily prayer or celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist?
- Am I offering myself to the movement of the Holy Spirit by working to build up my parish or the church in the world?
- Do I lend myself, through the movement of the Spirit, to assist others who are less fortunate than myself; the homeless, the poor, the downtrodden?
- Do I stand up against ill-treatment of others, racism, gossip, and hate to build up the church?
Because of the gift of the Spirit, we can say that Jesus continues to live in us, enlightening our minds, strengthening our faith, aiding us in our efforts to live and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ!
The work of the Holy Spirit in Acts of the Apostles and in the developments of the church’s understanding of Jesus’ word down through the centuries. If we do not take to heart these questions and open ourselves up to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we are not living our Catholic faith. Let the word of Jesus not fall on deaf ears. But rather let the Holy Spirit empower us to change the world and make it more Christ-like! God bless us, and may His Spirit guide us!