My dear children of God, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Still living in the glory of the resurrection, in this month of May, we celebrate the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In the Nicene – Constantinopolitan Creed, we recite credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et Vivifacautum(I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life). The Church proclaims her faith in the Paraclete; a faith that is born of the apostolic experience of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). This passage from the Acts of Apostles is offered for our meditation and helps to recall the marvelous works that happened on Pentecost day, when with great astonishment, the Apostles saw Jesus’ words come true. As mentioned in John’s Gospel on the eve of the passion he had assured them; “I will pray to the Father and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you forever” (Jn 14 :16). “This ‘Counsellor’, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and bring you to remembrance all that I have said to you” (Jn 14:26).
When the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles, he gave them extraordinary power, enabled them to proclaim the teachings of Christ to the whole world. Their Courage was great, their determination so sure, they were at this point ready to do anything, even to give up their lives. The gift of the Holy Spirit had released their deepest energies, concentrating them on the mission entrusted to them by the Redeemer. And it will be the Counsellor, the Paraclete who teaches them the truth.
We remain ever grateful to God, for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who has continued to be with the Church in these over two millennia of its existence. Indeed, we can boldly say that the events of Pentecost have continued to bear their marvelous fruits, everywhere instill apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to love and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication. Today also, the Holy Spirit sustains great and small acts of love, forgiveness, kindness and prophecy in the Church and gives life to ever new charisms and gifts, which attest to his ceaseless action in human hearts.
Another eloquent proof today is the vast number of faithful who belong to and partake in prayers and devotions to the Holy Spirit and the number of these who partake in the Life in the Spirit Seminar and the many encounters with the Holy Spirit today. All these point to the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to dwell with us in the Church. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us “All who are led by the Spirit are sons of God” (Roman 8:14). These words suggest a further way of understanding the wonderful action of the Spirit in our lives as believers. They open the way for us to reach the human heart; the Holy Spirit whom the Church calls upon to give “Light to the Senses” visits man inwardly and directly touches the depths of his being. To this end, we ought to desire the Holy Spirit. We have to long for the Holy Spirit like the Apostles did; He just has to be invited. Little wonder then why most prayers or songs dedicated to the Holy Spirit begin with an invitation ... Veni“Come”.
This first line of the magnificent sequence of Pentecost which contains a rich theology of the Holy Spirit is worthy of meditation. Here, we will reflect on the first word; Veni, “Come!” It recalls the waiting of the Apostles after Christ’s Ascension into heaven.
The heart of Mary and the Apostles at those moments were longing for his coming, alternating between ardent faith and confession of human inadequacy. When we long for the Holy Spirit, we are simply telling him to make us whole, to complete in us whatever is lacking. As disciples of Jesus Christ, the task given to us is enormous; hence calling on the Holy Spirit for help is our sure way out.
Every step we take towards mission and evangelization, love, mercy, kindness, we must count on the Holy Spirit to help us. Hence, the word Veni Sancte Spiritus(Come Holy Spirit) should never be far from our lips. When the Holy Spirit is in us, like the Apostles, we would be courageous; fearless, die to the flesh and begin to develop appreciation for the things of God.
Furthermore, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, (Rom. 8:26-27) gives us some more works of the Holy Spiritwhen he says,“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Now what does the Spirit ask for when he intercedes for us? There are three ways the text points to an answer for this question:
1. It says the Spirit asks for things that we do not know we should ask for (see verse 26: "We do not know how to pray for what we ought.")
2. It says the Spirit asks for things that we do not know to ask for because of our weakness ("The Spirit helps us in our weakness.")
3. It says the Spirit asks for things that are in accord with the will of God.
What a relief to know that God does not ration his Spirit (John 3:34)! No matter how tight we are economically, no matter how much stress we are under, the one thing we can count on is the abundance of the gift of the Holy Spirit! He is the love of God (Romans 5:5) and he is poured out on us without measure. God does not hold back his Spirit only for special people. He does not hoard the Spirit in case supplies get low. In fact, He’s always ready even eager to give us more.
Sometimes it is good to think about how much the Spirit can do in our lives. He testifies in us to the things of heaven. It is only through him that we are able to recognize that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). He convicts us of sin and enables us to repent. He assures our hearts that righteousness has triumphed over evil and that Satan has been condemned (John 16:8-11) and he gives us the power to proclaim the gospel—the same power he gave the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 4:31).
Have you called on the Holy Spirit lately? Have you cried out for more of his power, for more of his gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)? Maybe you want to be bolder at evangelism, but you don’t know what to do or say. It’s not hopeless! You can always call on the living water of the Spirit (John 7:37-38)! You can ask Jesus to fill you afresh with his Spirit! As you cry out to the Lord, he will empower you with his Spirit.
So in this Month of May and always, let the words Veni Sancte Spiritusnot be far from our lips so that we may encounter the Holy Spirit. We pray with Mary, Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, a most precious dwelling – place of Christ among us, so that she may help us to be living temples of the Spirit and tireless witness of the Gospel.
Let us pray, “Father, please pour out your Spirit upon me! Holy Spirit, come into my heart! I need your wisdom, guidance, and strength today. I ask you to be present in my thoughts, words, and deeds. Make me more like Jesus. Direct my steps to do only the Father’s will. Give me the courage to share about the Lord’s work in my life, so that others might come to know his love and saving power. Lord Jesus, strengthen the gifts of the Spirit I already have, and give me all the gifts I need to lead others to you. Amen”
Veni Sancte Spiritus! Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Veni Sancte Spiritus!Amen.
† Alfred Adewale Martins
Archbishop of Lagos
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