I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)
Last Sunday, we heard Jesus say: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1-2) The question is, is it possible to believe in God without also believing in Jesus? This can be quite confusing given that both Jesus and God are one and the same. In fact, Jesus said to Philip in that same Gospel passage: “To have seen me is to have seen the Father.”
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus introduces to us the third person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit; the Counsellor, the Spirit of Truth, and the indwelling presence of God in the life of the believer. As we gradually approach the Feast of Pentecost, our readings today present an urgent call upon us to intensify our prayers for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As we see in our first reading today, it is possible to be a Christian yet lacking the Holy Spirit. Could this be the reason why some Christians are living ungodly lives? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? How do we know if we have received the Holy Spirit? These questions bring us to our lessons for today.
*1. The Holy Spirit is the Counsellor*
As a Counsellor, the Holy Spirit comforts us and advises us on what to do when we are in any kind of crisis. The Holy Spirit also empowers us; enabling us to do what we cannot do based on our human strength alone. In today’s first reading, we see in very practical terms, the action of the Holy Spirit at work in Philip while he proclaimed Christ to the Christians of Samaria. This mission was so successful that news of it reached the Apostles in Jerusalem who then sent Peter and John to lay hands on the Christian converts for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
*2. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth*
To really grasp the full implication of this statement, let us consider what Jesus said to the Jews in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil…He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Just as it is not possible for light and darkness to be in the same place at the same time, lies and truth cannot coexist in us.
One clear sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians is the commitment to speaking the truth at all times. Beware of aligning yourself with the devil through the telling of lies. As St. Peter admonishes us in our second reading: “Keep your conscience clear… it is better to suffer for doing right (speaking the truth) than for doing wrong.” Do not be afraid of what anyone would do to you, just be truthful.
As the Spirit of truth the Holy Spirit inspires us, giving us deeper insights into what we cannot know on our own. St. Paul writing to Timothy mentions the Holy Spirit as the true author of the Bible when he said: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Are you trying to understand the Bible? Just call on the Holy Spirit and He will show you everything.
*3. The Worldly-minded Cannot Receive the Holy Spirit*
As Jesus puts it: “… the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:17) To possess the Holy Spirit is to have a completely different mind from the world. St. Paul makes the point clearer when he noted: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8).
It is possible to be a Christian and still have a worldly mind (a mind that is set on the flesh). This is why some of us are so neck-deep in sin and far from God spiritually; why we so often feel empty deep inside our hearts. Now is the time to do as St. Paul said to Timothy: “Rekindle (fan into flames) the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Have you been living in darkness? Wake up! Call on the Holy Spirit.
*4. Speaking in Tongues is Not the Only Manifestation of the Holy Spirit*
To possess the Holy Spirit is to have God living inside you and Jesus gave us the secret in today’s Gospel passage: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21).
If there should be any yardstick for measuring whether or not a person has the Holy Spirit, it should be how they keep God’s commandments; the kind of things they do especially in secret, how they love their neighbours and how they treat their enemies. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:45).
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, St. Paul admonishes us: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Speaking in tongues is just one of many gifts of the Holy Spirit and this gift was needed in the early days of Christianity as there was a need for them to speak in the languages of the many people around the world who had not yet heard the Gospel.
If you have the Holy Spirit in you, you begin to reflect Christ-like an image is reflected in a mirror. It would be impossible for anyone to encounter you and not feel this Divine Presence radiating from within you. St. Peter says in today’s second reading: “Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Peter 3:15).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God dwelling in us, speaking in the depths of our hearts and making the impossible possible in our lives. We must pray every day for a renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we may live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, make my heart ready for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, transform me from inside out, draw me nearer to you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 8:5-8,14-17, Ps. 66:1-7,16,20, 1 Peter 3:15-18, John 14:15-21).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu