When we pray the Creed, we always say that we believe in the Holy Spirit. When we prepare for Confirmation, we study the gifts of the Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit and we get ready to receive the Holy Spirit in a Sacramental way. But I often wonder if we are aware of the Holy Spirit on a day-to-day basis, in the everydayness of our lives, when the rubber meets the road.
The early Christian community certainly were aware of the Holy Spirit. They saw some very powerful things happen as a result of the Holy Spirit. They had the whole Pentecost experience and spoke in tongues. But even more important than that, they grew bold in the Holy Spirit. This was a group of men who were scared to death of what was happening. They saw the Savior hanged on a cross, and they panicked at the idea of that happening to them too. They scattered, forgetting for the moment all they had experienced with Jesus, trying to return to their former way of life.
And then Pentecost happened. The Holy Spirit descended upon them, and they were able to speak to people in their own native languages. They were able to cure the sick and do mighty deeds in the name of Christ, in much the same way as their Lord had done. Not only that, they grew bold. Instead of cowering in fear, today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows them fearlessly proclaiming Christ, founding Churches, writing to fellow Christians about matters of doctrine, and sharing the decisions of the Holy Spirit.
They were so in touch with the Holy Spirit, that they were able to tell others what the Holy Spirit wanted to happen. They weren’t making these things up; they did it through prayer and a fervent relying on the Holy Spirit to help them build the Church. Because they prayed to the Holy Spirit and consulted the Holy Spirit so constantly, they received grace from the Spirit and were able to act in prudent ways to found a Church that has come down through the ages to our own day.
This is the Holy Spirit that Jesus promises those disciples in today’s Gospel reading. At that time, they couldn’t have known how important the Spirit, the Advocate, would be to them. But they know it soon enough.
What is important for us to know is that Christ promises us this same Holy Spirit. He calls us all to receive the Holy Spirit and to rely on the Holy Spirit in all that we do. Think about how different our lives would be if we asked for the gifts of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. Think about how different our world would be if we prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide our business decisions, to help us vote wisely, to give us grace to deal with difficult decisions.
God wants us to have that kind of grace, that kind of guidance, that essential inspiration – which means to be imbued with the Spirit. So that is why, in these days after the Lord’s resurrection, Jesus promises that, on returning to heaven, he would send the Advocate, the One who would continue to intercede for us and be present to us and guide us into the future.
Next week we celebrate the Ascension. In two weeks we celebrate Pentecost. On the eve of these two great events, Christ makes a promise to us. He will not leave us alone. He will come back to us. And in the mean time, he will send us the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate and Guide. We should pray every day for a greater outpouring of the Spirit. I do it every morning and rely on the Spirit’s presence in my day. I use the prayer I learned when I was preparing for Confirmation. Maybe you know it too. If you do, pray it with me:
Come, Holy Spirit.
Fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.
Amen! Come, Holy Spirit!