Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim (Acts 2:3-4).
And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:41-42).
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple (.Luke 2:25-27)
While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God (Acts 10:44-46).
But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me (Acts 20:22-23).
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days (Luke 4:1-2).
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth (Psalm 104:30).
This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. As Catholic men, it is easy to think of Pentecost as just a once a year celebration of a powerful event that took place 2000 years ago. It is certainly true that something radical happened in the lives of the apostles when they were filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:3-4). They were filled with excitement and began speaking all about Jesus and his resurrection. Their hearts were burning with love for the Lord and with a desire to share his good news with everyone.
In the Scriptures, beforeand after Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit affecting the lives and decisions of so many people—even Jesus himself! Mary was compelled to say “yes” to the angel and become the Mother of God (Luke 1:35). Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when she said these words “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:41-43). Simeon was “inspired by the Spirit” to come to the temple and meet and prophesy over Jesus (Luke 2:25-27). Peter was compelled to visit Cornelius’ house, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Cornelius and “all who were listening to Peter’s message” (Acts 10:44-46). Paul was compelled by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to go to Jerusalem (Acts 20:22). Even Jesus was “Filled by the Spirit” and “led by the Spirit” to go into the desert to fast and pray (Luke 4:1-2).
These and many other Scripture stories tell us that the power of the Spirit that came at Pentecost is not just a once a year celebration, but is meant to be experienced by each of us. However, each of us needs to consider our own relationship with the Holy Spirit. “Do I know him and listen for his guidance? Am I letting him transform me into Christ’s image? Am I using the gifts he’s given me for the good of others?” If you can’t answer each question with a wholehearted yes, don’t give up! Ask the Lord to fill you afresh with his Spirit. Go ahead and ask!
The Holy Spirit wants to burn the knowledge of God’s love and mercy into each of our hearts. He wants to fill us with the same joy that the apostles knew— the joy of our salvation and the joy of knowing Jesus. Every day the Spirit wants to play an active role in our lives, just as he did in the lives of these early believers. He wants to counsel us and give us just the right words to say to someone who is hurting. He wants to strengthen us when we are feeling weak or helpless. He wants to help us see our sin, and then lead us into the freedom of his mercy. He wants to convince us of God’s passionate love for us (Romans 5:5), so that we can confidently walk through our days – no matter what circumstances we will face.
So how can we hear the Spirit? The obvious answers include prayer, fasting, and Scripture. But we should also be looking out for those times when a new, unexpected sense arises in our hearts: spontaneous thoughts of love or mercy, or maybe a new insight into a Scripture passage or a possible new direction in our lives. Follow these senses. Test them out, and see if they bring you joy, hope, or peace. If so, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit is behind them. The more you practice, the clearer his voice will become.
One thing is certain: We are all temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and by the power of the Spirit, each of us can accomplish great things in the name of Christ. Every day we can ask for the Spirit’s presence and guidance, and every day we will want to avoid everything—every sin—that would separate us from him and his love.
“Lord Jesus, fill us all anew with your Holy Spirit. Melt us with your fire, and refresh us with your wind. Come, Holy Spirit! Melt us, mold us, fill us, renew us, and use us for the good of your people. Empower us to be your witness in this world. May our lives be changed today and forever!”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- These Scriptures, and the article, describe many examples of New Testament persons who were filled with the Spirit and lead by the Spirit. The article then goes on to challenge us with these words: “These and many other Scripture stories tell us that the power of the Spirit that came at Pentecost is not just a once a year celebration, but is meant to be experienced by each of us.” What do these words mean to you? Do you agree with them? Why or why not?
- Each of us, as baptized Catholics, has received the Holy Spirit. Do you believe there is enough evidence in your life to “convict” you of being a Christian with the Holy Spirit indwelling you? Do you believe that the Lord wants to give you a deeper infilling of his Spirit? How can this happen?
- In what ways has the Holy Spirit manifested himself in a powerful way in your life?
- Psalm 104:30 says that the Holy Spirit will “renew the face of the earth”. What in your life would you like the Holy Spirit to renew?
- Take some time now to pray for a deeper infilling of the Holy Spirit. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.