Holy Spirit: Agent of Evangelization
by Fr. Peter deSousa
In the last century, oil deposits in the Gulf became a source of light, power and wealth to the impoverished, nomadic Arabs. For thousands of years, prior to that, when oil-wells were not tapped, the Arabs were poor and eked out a miserable living from the desert kingdom. Many cities in the desert now have beautiful gardens, with the money that came from the oil deposits. Sea water could be desalinated. Earth could be brought in by ship loads. Gardeners and new techniques of agriculture made all this possible. That is why oil is referred to as 'black gold'.
Like the oil wells, the Holy Spirit is an untapped deposit in so many of us as individuals, family, our small Christian community, our parish and the Church at large. Our lives too can become beautiful gardens, if we allow Him to act in and through us. The fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 :22 will be evident in our lives and interactions. We will be attractive to others who are stressed up and whose lives are meaningless or without love. They will meet Jesus through us
If we want our Church to grow, we need to develop a greater communion and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We should not just preach about him as an experience. We should not just invoke his aid before a meeting and then forget about his presence and guidance while each one tries to get his own hidden agenda across. The Holy Spirit is the principal Agent of Evangelization. Let the anointing of the Holy Spirit at our baptism, confirmation and priesthood be alive in us.
There are three outstanding documents in the last 31 years, that speak of the power of the Holy Spirit in the work of evangelization. Pope Paul VI gave us "Evangelii Nuntiandi" in 1975. Pope John Paul II gave us "Dominum et Vivificantem" in 1986 and "Redemptoris Missio" in 1990. let us study them and prayerfully reflect on them.
We need to do more than preach about this Divine Person. The whole Church and every domestic Church needs to develop a communion with the Holy Spirit and fellowship in the Holy Spirit, by awaiting His presence at prayer. He wants to talk to us and empower us, as He did at the first Pentecost. He is the Lord and Giver of life.
So let us begin the day greeting him with: "Good morning Holy Spirit. Let us work together today and I will be your vessel." At night we ought to thank Him :"Its been a wonderful day working with you Holy Spirit. Cover me and my family/people with your divine protection as we rest through the night." Before counseling, when making decisions and preparing sermons, the priest or counselor must always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is watching over the needs and situations of every part of the world and he knows which people are ready for the words he has prepared his priests and counselors to proclaim.
Before we preach we should ask the Spirit to act in and through us. When we finish preaching, we should thank the Holy Spirit and ask Him to continue to touch the hearts of our hearers, as they return home. We should ask the Spirit to continue to minister to them, heal them and help them to grow into this new life that they have heard about and met in Jesus. After all we are only his instruments. The Spirit is the One who changes hearts.
In our relationships as Spouses, Parents and children, siblings, members of a family, it is the Holy Spirit who ministers to us, heals us and helps us to grow in and through each other. All of us are the instruments he uses as he used the hands and voice of Jesus in his public ministry and of the Apostles after Pentecost.
Fellowship on the basis of intimate friendship, communion with and traveling together with the Holy Spirit is essential for our spiritual well being. The measure of our faith is in direct proportion to our communion with the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit comes to our help in our weakness, for, how to ask ? So, what we should ask for? We do not know, but the Spirit intercedes for us without words, as if with groans. And He who sees inner secrets, knows the desires of the Spirit praying for the holy ones, for He prays according to the will of God." (Rom 8:26f ) This applies to personal prayer, couple prayer and family prayer. The answer to all prayer is always a person… the person of the Holy Spirit, not things.
Without fellowship with the Holy Spirit, there can be no spiritual life, no faith with power and victory. The early Church was abundant with fervent prayer, overflowing passion, a rich vitality and thanksgiving, gushing out like a spring as a result of their fellowship with the Holy Spirit. If we only stress external observance of laws and not the spirit that enshrines them, we may be good disciples of the Pharisees.
If we pay attention only to performing rituals and mouthing pious formulae, while our minds and hearts are full of sin, how will the Spirit touch the lives of people who want to experience Jesus' presence in their midst? Many Churches that were once vibrant, active and missionary are now full of tourists who come to see famous paintings or sculptures, instead of them being the living Body of Christ in which the power of God is felt. Without a fervent fellowship with and in the Holy Spirit, the Church could appear cold; worship can all to easily becomes mechanical; faith can loses its burning passion so that we see no need to share the good news of salvation and redemption with others who are searching sincerely. This kind of faith is like a stove without a fire"
What is the state of our family church? Is the Spirit alive in our home? In our conjugal relationship as spouses, is our couple communication, sharing of ideas and feelings, our love-making programmed and depersonalized? Do we invite the Holy Spirit to bring dynamism, enthusiasm, freshness, new life into our conjugal and parental relationships? Does the Holy Spirit enervate our relationships as parents and children, siblings, family members? He helps us to be patient, kind, understanding, gentle and never to give up on anyone.
In Acts 19:2, Paul asks the tired and dejected Ephesians: "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" In John 14:16,18, John says that when Jesus saw his disciples were in sorrow and despair, He promised that the Holy Spirit would come and abide in their spirits.: "I will pray the Father and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever … I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." So let us acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church and welcome Him, earnestly desiring His guidance and opening our hearts to depend on Him continually.
The Holy Spirit is God, a member of the Holy Trinity. He is a person; not an impersonal entity, an inanimate object or an unknown power to be used. We have to allow him to use us for his own work, according to his will. God's Word only becomes intelligible to our hearts, when we allow God's Breath to liven it. As a couple and as a family, how can we pray together to him, reflect on and share God's Word together with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit?
Then indeed the deserts will be turned into gardens bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Jesus will be present in our domestic Churches as we gather together in his name. We will be channels of his presence and love to each other, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
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