Filling our Lamps - Pentecost

 “To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.”

Mother Teresa offered a beautiful and accurate image for the Holy Spirit in our lives. “To keep the light of Christ aflame within us, we have to keep inviting the Holy Spirit in! We have to keep opening our lives for the Spirit of God to flow freely within us.”

Today, on this major feast of Pentecost - 50 days after our Lord’s Resurrection - we remember how the Holy Spirit came WITH POWER upon the disciples of Christ, transforming them from frightened men to bold preachers, from abandoned orphans to grace-filled apostles!

“The goal of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit!” St. Seraphim of Sarov taught. “Prayer, fasting, vigils, and acts of charity are all simply ways of trying to receive and maintain the Holy Spirit in our lives.”

Authentic Christianity is not supposed to be a static, institutionalized religion, but a living, dynamic, vibrant way of life, affecting every aspect of our being! St. Paul says it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

Look how the Holy Spirit transformed a group of cowardly men who had betrayed, denied and abandoned their Master out of fear. With the coming of the Holy Spirit enlightening them, the Apostles began to fully understand all that Christ said. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples courageously proclaimed the good news of Christ to everyone, even knowing that such boldness could lead to their arrest and even death. With the coming of the Holy Spirit the followers of Christ received inspiration and power to go forth to all nations and offer a witness of God’s love to all people everywhere!

The Holy Spirit radically changed the lives of the disciples, and can change our lives! How?

First, the Holy Spirit can help us understand all things. “The Spirit of Truth will guide you into all the truth” Jesus promised.  The Holy Spirit is our guide to overcome the temptations and so-called wisdom of the world.

Second, the Holy Spirit emboldens us to proclaim the good news of Christ to the world. Frightened men become fearless preachers. The Apostle who denied Christ three times boldly stands before three thousand people on the day of Pentecost and preaches Jesus Christ as Lord and King! The other disciples who abandoned Christ gain renewed courage, in the face of persecution, saying, “We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard!” Countless saints willingly face death because of the strength that comes from the great Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

Third, the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses in the world. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.”  To be witnesses for God means the Holy Spirit fills us with the power necessary to overcome evil. We no longer remain helpless in front of our temptations and evil habits. We have the greatest helper, God Himself, living within us! 

The Holy Spirit not only empowers us to overcome sin, however, but guides us to grow in holiness by filling us with its fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control” (Gal 5:22).  Each of these virtues will increase in our lives as the Holy Spirit increases its activity within us.

We will now have the Kneeling Service of Pentecost, where we will get down on our knees three times. Each time, I will offer a prayer asking for the Holy Spirit to come down upon each one of us. Let each of us open our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our very beings and invite God the Holy Spirit to come – come and live in us forever!

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