THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT – DAY 8
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As disciples of the Holy Spirit, the height of discipleship is maturity. To be mature in the Spirit is to demonstrate the ability to be open to receiving and receiving afresh the Holy Spirit and to live in the Spirit and bear fruit, fruit that will last (John 15:16; Gal. 5:22-23). It goes to show that the necessity of the Holy Spirit cannot be overemphasized. Little wonder, even in the Old Testament, God created the world through the power of the Spirit, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). Again, the first king of Israel, Saul was empowered as follows: “The spirit of Yahweh will then seize on you, and you will go into ecstasy with them, and be changed into another man” (1 Sam. 10:6). And most importantly, Jesus Christ only began His public ministry after His declaration: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” (Luke 4:18). And He ended also with the seven last words: “Into your hands I commend my Spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Friends of the Holy Spirit, we also need the Holy Spirit and the Spirit comes to us according to our stages of discipleship. At our first stage of discipleship, the Spirit meets us through the sacrament of baptism of water. As we grow further, the “Fullness of the Spirit” is given to us through the sacrament of confirmation. But we need to sustain the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. Doing so is not always easy. Therefore, we need the power and empowerment to do so. How, we might ask? Through baptism and conformation, we receive water and holy oils as the signs of the gifts, charisms, and ministries of the Holy Spirit and they are implanted in our hearts and souls as “seeds” in order to sprout into fruits. The aforementioned elements need to be cultivated and nurtured to grow and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
In order to achieve, the abovementioned task as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we need not just the power to do so but empowerment and renewal of our initial zeal. So, we can receive the Holy Spirit again and again in order to move on. Jesus Christ demonstrated the truth of receiving and receiving anew the Holy Spirit in such a way that after His resurrection, His first gift was “’Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit‘” (John 20:21-22). Fifty days after His resurrection, precisely on Pentecost day He fulfilled His promise of sending the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Thus, when we talk of baptism of the Holy Spirit, it shouldn’t be strange to us. It simply means awakening and reawakening the original sacramental graces, gifts, and charisms we had received at our initial baptism into the Holy Spirit. Pope St. Paul VI whose memorial we celebrate today, sees baptism of the Holy Spirit as “the experience of the Divine Hug.”
The core confusion associated with the notion of baptism of the Holy Spirit is the thinking and feeling that it is another baptism and then we begin another rigorous preparation for it. St. Paul says, be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:3-6).
This being so, be conscious of the reality and need of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You and I need it always. Meanwhile, it is not only limited to the era of Pentecost commemoration or to any special group in the Church. Rather, it is meant for all the baptized and confirmed in Christ Jesus. We can always do novenas to the Holy Spirit for a prayerful preparation to experience a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit fill the Hearts of the Faithful and enkindle in us the FIRE OF YOUR LOVE..