Deacon Ralph –
I think the Holy Spirit is, at times, the person of the Holy Trinity that we turn to less frequently. Sure, all prayers, whether to Father, Son or Holy Spirit reach the same destination, but when Jesus ascends to the Father, it is the Holy Spirit that is sent specifically to dwell with us and dwell in us through our baptism. The Holy Spirit makes a profound and unmistakable entrance upon the apostles at Pentecost. The Acts of the Apostles attempts to describe this inbreaking of the Holy Spirit, as best that can be done in human words, by saying, “And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.” What a day that must have been, evidenced by the drastic change in lives of the apostles!
Yet, that same Holy Spirit, continues to work and live in us. It is the Holy Spirit that inspires and moves us to live more for others, to die to self and, in doing so, become more Christ-like. Sri reminds us of Saint Paul’s caution to the Corinthians, that many of the Israelites did not enter the promised land. We too, he warns, should not presume salvation. As Sri states, there is a big difference to “getting in” to the covenant and “staying in” the covenant. “Getting in” is God’s free gift, God’s invitation. “Staying in” requires a response on our part. We must strive always to grow in holiness by becoming more Christ-like with each passing day.
In this chapter, we are told to beg God to inspire us in all our actions and guide us in all of our decisions. What great advice! We learn that God does want to prompt and guide us every day. Is there anyone more qualified than God to give us the direction that we so desperately need? If our whole purpose in life is to achieve eternal beatitude, then we must attempt to conform our own will as closely as possible to God’s Will – and that is what we do when we follow God’s inspirations and promptings. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to live like Christ by means of His gifts, fruits, and sanctifying grace. Remember – to sanctify means to make holy! We are transformed by grace. But I think the mistake that many of us make is to expect a lot of pomp and circumstance as we attempt to recognize promptings from God when in fact they probably come to most of us in the subtlest of ways. Additionally, the ‘noise’ of our lives can effectively drown out those promptings if we don’t take time to pray and reflect.
I love the warning that we are given in this chapter from Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians as well. Here we are reminded that God saved all the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and he provided for them during their journey through Sinai. However, most of them never made it to the promised land. Paul tells us that this story is a reminder that we too, during our lifelong faith journey, even though we have been saved, can fail to make it to the promised land. Nothing is automatic. Learning to conform ourselves to Christ, to mature in our faith, takes work and time – a lifetime of time! So, if we take nothing else away from this chapter, let us take away this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Please comment on the questions below or any comments you would like to offer on this chapter.
- In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was active, but hidden. In the New Testament, the Spirit is very visible. In my life, is the Holy Spirit’s presence and action, hidden, evident, or not noticed at all? What are evidences of the work of the Holy Spirit in my parish community?
- What is your favorite symbol of the Holy Spirit? How does that symbol reflect the nature and action of the Holy Spirit?
- How can I remove the “noise” from my life that drowns out the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
- In what ways does our society help or hinder our “staying in” God’s covenant?
- The Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier who calls us to holiness. What would you need to do to be more holy?
As we suggested after reading last week’s chapter, if you have a Cross/Crucifix that has special meaning, family history or evokes prayerful reflection for you, take a picture with your phone or tablet, attach it to an email and send our way to [email protected] We will post on our blog along with any info you’d care to share about it. You can view the slideshow of Crucifixes HERE.