THEME: FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
READINGS: Acts 2:1-11/ Romans 8:8-17/ John 14:15-16, 23-26
Solemn feast of Pentecost
At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ assured His apostles of the coming of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 15-16, 23-26; today’s gospel reading). Then, six weeks later, on the day of His ascension into heaven, Jesus reassured His apostles of the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-8). Ten days thereafter, the Holy Spirit descended in a powerful way on the Day of Pentecost. He filled the apostles and the other disciples who were with them (Acts 2:1-4; part of today’s first reading).
Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles displayed courage, for they boldly proclaimed the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ before thousands of people. In addition, the Holy Spirit gave them the gifts of speaking in foreign tongues and of teaching. As one reads through the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, one is struck by the variety of other gifts that the Holy Spirit gave them. St. Paul seems to provide a summary of the list of the gifts that the Holy Spirit endowed the apostles and other disciples with: the gifts of apostleship, wisdom, teaching, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, service to others, administration, and above all, the gifts of faith, hope and love (1 Cor. 12:8-11, 27 – 13:13).
Beloved, we were initially filled with the Holy Spirit when we were baptized; and we had a special re-filling by the Holy Spirit when we were confirmed. So, the question is: which gifts of the Holy Spirit have we been displaying in our individual lives?
Are we displaying the spiritual gift of wisdom? In other words, is our sense of judgment guided by the Spirit of God or by the spirit of this world?
What about the gift of teaching? Do we teach our children or others about the good news of salvation?
What about the gift of healing? Some of us may not have the gift of spectacular healing, but we should have the gift that heals the broken-hearted, or the healing gift which brings peace to disturbed minds or which brings peace between people, etc.
What about the gift of miracles? Some of us may not have the gift of spectacular miracles, but we should have the gift of turning around the bad situations of some people – this is another kind of the gift of miracles. For instance, when we aid a helpless and hopeless orphan to realize a bright future, we become instruments of God’s miracle to that orphan.
What about the gift of prophecy? Certainly, I am not referring to the phenomenon which is “trending” in Ghana – namely, the uttering of false prophecies of death and doom by selfstyled prophets. A true prophet is God’s spokesperson. He/she proclaims God’s message and not his/her own message or imagination. And every baptized person is called to speak God’s message. Now, fortunately for us, God’s message has been written down and so we have access to it. So, let us be eager to proclaim His Written Word. Furthermore, any message we receive in the silence of our heart or through any unique spiritual experience should be assessed in the light of the Written Word of God and it should have the approval of the true successors of the apostles of Christ before we proclaim it as God’s message.
What about the gift of discernment? Are we able to distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from the evil one? Today, there is so much which comes from the evil one. The evil one has even infiltrated the Church and many of his agents are parading as men/women of God. I, therefore, pray that the Spirit’s gift of discernment may help us to clearly identify what comes from God and firmly hold unto it, while we boldly reject what comes from the evil one.
What about the gift of tongues? Let us praise God for those who have and use the genuine gift of tongues. However, today, there are too many fake tongue-speakers. The fact is that not every Christian is expected to have the gift of tongues; and so, if we do not have it, we should not fake the speaking of tongues.
Indeed, no one is expected to have all the gifts of the Spirit. Let me explain this further with the help of First Corinthians Chapter 12. In this text, St. Paul likens the variety of gifts of the Spirit to the different parts of the human body, which represents the Church. In this case, since one individual Christian cannot be the whole Church – the body of Christ – so he/she cannot have all the gifts. Each Christian can have only some of the gifts.
However, though the human body is made up of several parts, each part enjoys certain fundamental things (e.g. blood and oxygen) to keep them alive. Similarly, though we are all not expected to have all the gifts, there are three fundamental gifts which we must all have – namely, faith, hope and love. These may be seen as our spiritual blood and oxygen. Therefore, beloved, how strong is our faith in the Lord? How certain is our hope in eternal life? And, how fervent is our love for God and neighbour?
Finally, therefore, as people who have been filled with the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation, may our faith be strong, our hope be certain and our love be fervent! Then, at the pleasure of the Holy Spirit, may we display additional spiritual gifts for the benefit of the Church and the glorification of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis