Jesus makes a startling statement at the Last Supper: “It is for your benefit that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send him to you” (Jn 16:7). What could be better than the presence of Jesus by our side? Only his presence in us, made possible by his gift of the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit is the breath and life of God, poured into us as the gift of God’s love. Although it can be easy to overlook the role of the Spirit, we see that Jesus’ mission culminated in the sending of the Spirit upon his Church. In Confirmation, he gives each of us the most precious gift he has: his own Spirit to make us fully alive with his divine life, enabling us to live a supernatural life in the world. The Spirit teaches us to pray and to live, gives us gifts and gives us the courage to live our mission.
This trust begins with prayer. Paul explains that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray properly, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans too deep to be expressed” (Rom 8:26). Prayer should not consist only of talking to God because it is an intimate union that takes place in the heart. Prayer is certainly not a technique or something under our control. It is a movement from deep within us, guided by the Spirit, which draws us into a communion of love with God. Taking regular time for prayer allows the Spirit to keep our hearts open to his movements within us and to strengthen God’s presence within us.
The Christian life, imbued with the Spirit of God, is a life of constant communication, with the inner movements of the heart constantly reaching out to God and the Spirit continually urging us to action. Relying on the Spirit enables us to listen to those inner promptings, prompting us to do something, giving us things to say, and holding us back from doing or saying something that would be harmful. Jesus promised that when we are in need we should not worry because “the Holy Spirit will teach you in that hour what to say” (Lk 12:12). With the Spirit, we are not simply alone.
The Spirit does not guide us only for ourselves, but for the building up of the Church. He gives all Christians gifts that we call charisms: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12, 7). Paul gives examples, such as knowledge, wisdom, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, and discerning of spirits. As a teacher, I know, for example, when I teach beyond my abilities with the help of the Spirit and when I am prompted by new ideas and deeper enthusiasm. We may never have realized what gifts the Spirit gives us, but when we pay attention, we can recognize how some things seem to come more easily than usual and have a more powerful effect.
The Spirit asks us to be bold in doing good to others. When we look at the Acts of the Apostles, we see how the disciples moved from fear to willingly facing persecution after Pentecost. They were just different with the gift of the Spirit. Their prayer led them to action: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Sometimes we think, “I could never do that,” and we’re probably right. But, with the Spirit of God, we can do much more than we ever imagined.
Although we may take it for granted, Jesus knew he was giving us what we needed most by leaving us his Spirit as his ultimate gift. Now what are we going to do with it? The presence of the Spirit can grow in us through prayer, a presence that inspires and guides us, leads us to serve others through the gifts he gives and gives us the courage to do what is beyond. of our strength. Relying on the Spirit in this way will change everything, both in us and around us.
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