A young adult who just graduated from college was eager to have a car when he got a job. One day a sales company that provided service vehicles to its associates for area coverage hired him. He was granted a pre-used car that he could use as a junior sales associate. Driving a car to and from work was an ego-booster for him, however the car was not in perfect condition – it would not start without a jump-start or a manual push. Despite this, he found ways to overcome the car’s defect – he asked strangers to help him push-start the car, or left the engine running when he stopped for short client visits. For several months he settled for such conditions without reporting it to the company.
A serious family issue forced him to quit his job; hence he needed to turn the car over to the new sales associate. He described and explained to the new guy how he managed to start the car step-by-step. The new guy opened the hood, inspected, and found out that the only trouble of the car was a loose cable. He twisted the cable a bit, turned the switch on, and the engine started without having to push the car.
For many months, the young adult had relied on his own methods and endured unnecessary troubles. The power to start the car was there all along – it only needed to be connected.
In John 14:18, Jesus promises that He would not leave us orphans. He would send the Advocate, the Comforter, who would guide, direct and empower us. This promise is fulfilled on Pentecost – 50 days after Easter, and 10 days after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus – when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and Mary. The celebration of Pentecost is a reminder that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is with us. We celebrate that the Holy Spirit dwells and works in our lives. As Catholics, we first received the Holy Spirit at our baptism – making our body and soul God’s temple – strengthened at Confirmation, and again on Pentecost.
But what does it really mean for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us?
Do you remember the last time you heard someone preach and a single statement just struck you straight into your heart? Or you may have passed a sign hung on a shop door that read, “Do not be afraid”, and you felt like it spoke directly to you as if it knew what you were going through? Or you might have found yourself in speaking terms with your brother whom you have not talked with for years? Wasn’t that strange but timely?
Our faith tells us that the Holy Spirit works in creative ways to speak to us. The priest’s homily is the work of the Holy Spirit as it speaks of God’s Word. The random passage may not be random at all as it may be His way of telling you that you are not alone in this journey. The ability to forgive is the work of the Holy Spirit, in the same way that the ability to do little things with great impact to others is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not only creative in reaching out to us; He is also so generous that great gifts are granted upon us only if we ask. It is written in Luke 11:13, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” In Isaiah 11, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, knowledge, counsel (right judgment), understanding, fortitude, piety (reverence), and fear of the Lord. St. Paul further talks about the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 being faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, ecstatic utterances, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. These gifts, more than anything else, are the ones that we badly need in our secular world. But have we asked for any of these from the Holy Spirit yet?
The Holy Spirit dwelling in us is not just a doctrinal concept; it is supposed to be an experiential manifestation of God’s love for us. We were promised of the Paraclete on Jesus’ departure, it was fulfilled on Pentecost. We were assured of spiritual gifts, and we are granted with such gifts if we only ask. Tuning in to the voice of the Holy Spirit ‘requires’ for us to be still as it may come in a gentle, quiet sound, or it may come in a blow of a rushing wind. Being attuned to the Holy Spirit transforms us into persons with observable attributes, which are joy, charity, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity, or also called as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. It saves us from unnecessary troubles that could possibly consume us.
On this solemnity of Pentecost, Jesus invites us to “receive the Holy Spirit” that we may experience the fullness of God’s love. May we allow the Holy Spirit to use His power fully in our lives.