I Thought You Should Know | The gift of the Holy Spirit is God's greatest surprise to mankind
After the birth of our Savior in Bethlehem, and Christ's passion, death and resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles is perhaps the greatest surprise our God has ever given mankind.
You will recall that at the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the apostles all fled in fear and terror! They abandoned their master, Jesus Christ. Imprisoned by their own fears and separated from their master and from each other, they decided to come together on Easter Sunday night in the upper room to pray. They did not have a clue as to what was about to happen! This is the same room where, three days earlier, they had experienced a profound sense of communion with Christ at the Last Supper.
Into the midst of this gathering of terrified apostles, Jesus appears! His very first words are, "Peace be with you." After showing them His clear credentials of the five wounds, He says again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And "when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'"
What a revolution Jesus started that night! This revolution first took place in the hearts of the apostles. Instead of focusing on their own inner failures over the past three days, God invited them to focus on His Holy Spirit as the source of their guidance and strength. What a relief! What a comfort! What a joy to have a new sense of direction and meaning of life!
Suddenly, they were more concerned with the Holy Spirit's life within them than they were for their physical safety. Now they could unlock the doors and welcome persecution! Eventually, they even rejoiced that they had an opportunity to suffer for the sake of the Name.
Just as the apostles who fled Jesus in the Garden were imprisoned by their own sins and weaknesses, so we too, as individuals and as a society, are imprisoned by our own sins as we give in to the forces of the culture of materialism and of the culture of death.
It is not that we have not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation, but we have not yet experienced His full release in our lives!
Let me use an example to illustrate. If I buy a smart phone, my use of it will be limited by my awareness or lack of awareness of its potential. I can use a smart phone to make and receive telephone calls. That's great. But if I know more about it, I will discover that I can also use it to get the weather, to search the Internet, to record lectures as well as to videotape conferences. I can use it as a Global Positioning Unit, as well as a place to store and retrieve all my contacts. Someone once said to me, "How do you keep up with all the latest technology?" I responded, "I don't. I buy it and then ask a kid to show me how it works!"
However, if I am too proud to ask for help, I will use the smart phone just to receive and send messages. Just because I own a smart phone does not mean that I can take advantage of all the features it offers.
In a similar way, just because I have been baptized and confirmed does not mean that I am aware of the fullness of the Holy Spirit whom I have within me.
However, I do not have to live in my present powerlessness and stupidity! I can study the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, pray and ask others to help me! Take a look at the remarkable way in which the Lord has transformed Church leaders in our own lifetime. Pope John Paul II is a remarkable example. He gave the Church the courageous leadership we needed as the culture of death darkened the lives of so many Catholics. Take a look at the joy, wisdom and light of our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
May I also ask you to take a look at Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who is presently the chaplain of the papal household. For 18 years in Milan he was a professor of the origins of Christianity until he came to the charismatic conference on the Holy Spirit in Kansas City, Mo., in 1977 with 50,000 other Christians. That conference on the Holy Spirit changed his life and now, for 33 years, he has been the chaplain of the papal household.
I also invite you to take a look at Father Michael Scanlon, the retired chancellor of the University of Steubenville. Prior to his arrival as president, opening-day Mass was attended by only six students and eight faculty members. Today it is one of the most orthodox Catholic universities in America!
Think of what a different Catholic Church this would be if all Catholic universities sought chancellors and commencement speakers who were filled with the awareness of the Holy Spirit within them!
You get the drift!
Great things are possible in our Church and in our lives when we open ourselves up to a greater awareness of the Holy Spirit within us! The Holy Spirit wants to transform our lives, our Church and our culture, if only we ask Him!
The simplest way to begin this new journey is to ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life in a deeper way. Keep it simple. Keep it sincere. Keep it up! It will happen!
Finally, keep an eye open for the next Life in the Spirit Seminar. This may be just what you need. If it worked for Father Cantalamessa and for Father Scanlon, it will also work for you!
- I Thought You Should Know | God is inviting all mankind to a banquet for His Son
- I Thought You Should Know | God forgives the greatest sinners in the world
- I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Let the Holy Spirit guide you through Scripture
- I Thought You Should Know | Your greatest calling is to a life of intimacy with God
- I thought you should know | Fall in love with the Holy Spirit, say good-bye to sin
- News »
- Papal News
- Religious Liberty
- Living Our Faith »
- Church Teaching »
- Opinion »
- Year of Faith
- Special Sections »