The Spirit calls; do we respond? by Fr Bel San Luis SVD

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WORD Alive in Manila Bulletin, Pentecost Sunday

A soldier and his wife were preparing for the baptismal party of their baby girl when the chaplain arrived for the baptism.

Taking the father aside, the priest asked, “Are you prepared for this solemn event?”

“I guess so, Father,” replied the soldier.  “I’ve got a litson, pickles, cake, cookies…”

“No, no!” interrupted the chaplain.  “I mean are you spiritually prepared?” “Well, Father, would two bottles of whisky, two cases of beer be enough?”

This Sunday is Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit. Note that it’s not the feast of the unholy spirits, like whisky and beer!

One difficulty in knowing the mysterious Holy Spirit is that He is represented in various symbols. The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a dove that hovered over Christ when He was baptized at the river Jordan. In biblical time, the dove is regarded as a holy bird.

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At Pentecost He came down “like wind.” “Wind” (pnoe in Greek) is used in the Scripture to designate a person’s “breath” or “spirit.” (Read Genesis 2,7; Acts 17,25). The Holy Spirit “inspires” or “breathes life into.” And one who is inspired receives life.

This is shown, for instance, when someone drowns and stops breathing. Somebody applies mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and his breath revives the unconscious person.

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For the apostles of Jesus, the dramatic renewal happened when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire on Pentecost Day. From scared, weak-kneed disciples hiding behind closed doors, the disciples went out and boldly proclaimed the teachings of Christ.

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Like the disciples’ experience, the Spirit also calls us to conversion or spiritual transformation. I  had a friend in the Ilocos who worked in the  bank  whose accounting expertise I consulted about school finances in our Divine Word College of Laoag.

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He would talk endlessly about money, but would keep mum when I shifted to religious matters. He wasn’t  really that irreligious because he attended Sunday Mass regularly. But one would call him a  “church pillar”—because, literally, he would just stand behind the pillars of the church!

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We lost track of each other for years. When we  met in Manila, I expected him to rattle off his favorite topic, but surprisingly, he was now talking about prayer meetings, service for the Lord and the like.

“What  happened?”  I asked. “It’s a long story,” he replied, “but after  joining  a Life  in  the  Spirit Seminar (LSS), I realized  that  I’d  been missing  a  lot of important things in life. Where  God  occupied just the fringes before, now He is at the center of my life.”

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We, too,  received the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation, but why does He not change  our lives as He did to the apostles, that accountant and spiritual converts?

The Holy Spirit won’t change us unless we WANT to be changed.

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Did you ever experience how deep in your heart you should give up drinking, gambling or underpaying your workers or get invited to attend a retreat or LSS? Or do you remember St. Augustine during his worldly life and the Spirit’s inner voice was calling him to change? His response: “Lord, make me holy, but not yet!”

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The promptings of the Holy Spirit are always there. But the trouble is that the lure of the world like inordinate wealth or worldly pleasures overpower us. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” said the Lord. it’s up to us to accept or  reject the Spirit’s urgings. When you do accept them, then they will lead us to a Godly and righteous living. But when we reject them, they will lead us to perdition. Make your choice.

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