THEME: FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
READINGS: Acts 2:1-11/ Galatians 5:16-25/ John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
At his baptism, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove; the same Spirit led him to the desert where Jesus fasted and was tempted (Luke 4:1-12); and he returned to Nazareth filled with the same Spirit (Luke 4:14). Then, in the Synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus himself affirmed that he had been anointed for ministry by the Holy Spirit. In short, from the very beginning to the end of his ministry, Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit for his ministry, so his apostles, disciples, and indeed all Christians need to be filled with his Spirit. With the filling or anointing by the Spirit, we are able to display spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit. Let us learn from the apostles and disciples about how to display the spiritual gifts and spiritual fruit in our life and ministries.
The spiritual gifts are spiritual abilities given by the Holy Spirit. Some of the spiritual gifts are wisdom, understanding, discernment, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of God. Others are faith, teaching, prophecy, healing, miracles, speaking in tongues and interpretation (1 Cor. 12:4-12). Beginning with the day of Pentecost and going through the remaining Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, one is amazed by the way in which the apostles and disciples displayed the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- On the day of Pentecost, the apostles and other disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit who enabled them to speak in foreign tongues and to proclaim boldly (Acts 2:4).
- Acts 4:8 = Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, courageously addressed the Sanhedrin, the very ‘Supreme Court’ which tried Jesus. It is also amazing how an illiterate fisherman confounded the ‘Supreme Court’ with divine knowledge and wisdom (cf. Luke 12: 11-12).
- Acts 4:31 = when the believers had prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit who enabled them to continue to proclaim the Word with boldness.
- Acts 9:17 = Ananias told the blind Saul that he was to regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit to become a witness of Jesus in many towns and nations.
- Acts 13:8-9 = St. Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, prevailed over the magician, Elymas (at Paphos).
- Acts 13:52 = the disciples (including St. Paul) were filled with the Holy Spirit to withstand a persecution in Antioch in Pisidia.
- Acts 7:55-60 = ‘Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus sitting at God’s right hand.’ Thus, the Holy Spirit graced St. Stephen with ‘beatific’ vision and personal holiness.
- And in several places, St. Peter, St. Paul and others healed and performed other miracles.
Beloved, we were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ on the day we were baptized; and we were refilled at our Confirmation. The question, therefore, is: are we displaying the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Although, none of us is expected to have all the spiritual gifts, we are expected to display some of them.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Two features of the fruit of a tree may help us understanding what the fruit of the Spirit is: (a) the fruit is a product of the tree and (b) we can identify a tree by its fruit. Similarly, in the first place, the fruit of the Spirit is the good ‘thing’ (virtue) we produce because of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Secondly, the spiritual fruit we bear is an evidence that the Spirit is in us.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul mentions one fruit of the Spirit, but then he goes on to give us nine (9) virtues: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [and] self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23). We could see these virtues as the several parts of one fruit of the Spirit, just as a mango fruit, for instance, is made up of several parts: the peel, fibre, juice and seed.
Therefore, as the nine virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control make up one fruit of the Spirit, we are expected to have all of them. Thus, in contrast to the spiritual gifts, one is expected to exhibit all the virtues of the fruit of the Spirit.
HOW TO BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Now, how do we remain filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we can constantly display the spiritual gifts and fruit?
The Holy Spirit is the Divine Person who fuels our spiritual life. We received our initial fueling by the Holy Spirit at Baptism; and we had a special re-fueling at Confirmation. But as a vehicle has to be fueled regularly, so the Christian needs the constant re-filling by the Holy Spirit. The fueling or re-fueling is a free gift from the Spirit of God, but we need to clean our spiritual ‘fuel tanks’ and we need to have a spiritual ‘fuel dispenser’ (or hose) in place. We clean our ‘fuel tanks’ through repentance and Confession; and the following make up our ‘fuel dispenser’: the sacraments, prayer, fasting, works of charity, worship, devotion, reading and mediating on the Word of God, good moral life, etc.
Beloved, let us renew our commitment to clean our spiritual ‘fuel tanks’ and to keep our spiritual ‘fuel dispenser’ in good order. With this, may we enjoy the abundant re-fueling by the Holy Spirit this Pentecost and beyond, amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis