REFLECTION FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Some time ago, I came across a riddle where a man was asked if he would save his mom or his wife if both were to be in danger of drowning in a river at the same time, and he could only save one person. It was tough for the man to answer because both persons appear to have equal importance to him.
In life, we often relate to people according to the level of importance we attach to them. As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, we need to reflect on the person and the importance of the Holy Spirit. Put more directly, “is the Holy Spirit important in our lives are His roles, indispensable?” The following questions are key for us: who is the Holy Spirit, what are the functions of the Holy Spirit, and how does the work of the Holy Spirit affect our lives?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is not a “thing” that is why we are talking about “who” in this segment. There are some misrepresentations of the Holy Spirit as a “thing” to the extent that some people use the pronoun “it” to describe the Holy Spirit due to some manifestation of His presence in the form of fire, dove, wind, force, etc.
The Holy Spirit is a Person, in fact, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity who shares One Essence with the Father and the Son; that means the Holy Spirit is God (2 Cor. 5:5). As God, the Holy Spirit is Omnipotent (Micha 3:8), He is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7), and Omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10) and Eternal (Hebrew 9:14).
As a person, the Holy Spirit could teach (John 14:26), He advocates (John 16:7), He convicts (John 16:8), and He helps (Romans 8:26), among other things.
What are the Functions of the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit, as the third Person of the Holy Trinity, has been active from the moment God disclosed Himself. The following are the specialized functions of the Holy Spirit
The Creator Spirit
The Book of Genesis (1:2) tells us that before God started the work of creation, the Spirit was hovering over the face of the deep. Psalm (104:30) says, “You send forth your Spirit, and they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”
The Holy Spirit brings life as the breath of God. After molding man from the dust of the earth, God breathed on Him the breath of life, and he became a living being (Gen. 2:7). The Book of Job (33:4) says that the Spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty brought me to life.
Here, we understand that the Holy Spirit is responsible for the creation of life, not just human life but life in general. Remember, He was actively hovering before creation started.
The Permanent Abiding Presence
In the Gospel of John (14:16), our Lord Jesus Christ promised his disciples that he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with them forever. This is one of the great benefits of the coming of Lord Jesus Christ. Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, He was not abiding permanently in the lives of people.
Now we can understand why our Lord Jesus Christ asked his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father; the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life would be impossible and impracticable
The Giver of Gifts
One of the core characteristics of God the Holy Spirit is His giving attitude, just like God the Father (John 3:16) and the Son (Matt. 20:28). The prophet Isaiah (11:2), and St. Paul (1 Cor. 12:1-11; Galatians 5:22) tell us about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. St. James (1:17) tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God above.
Signs of the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our Lives
The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost day in the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-11) shows some manifestations like the wind, the tongues of fire, and the speaking in tongues. One could ask, “are these the only signs that indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit?”
Other enduring signs indicate the presence of the Holy Spirit apart from the physical presence of fire and wind or speaking in tongues. We need to recall that the Holy Spirit is coming to be with us forever, and there are dependable indicators of His presence:
Joy and Thankfulness
Joy is different from happiness. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22) that is not dependent on external or changeable factors. In Luke (10:21), our Lord Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and gave thanks to God the Father for revealing to mere children what is hidden from the rich and the learned. The in-dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit moves us to be thankful to God.
Submission to God and Witnessing
One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to lead us. It follows then that anyone who is moved by the Holy Spirit submits to God. Submission to God brings about witnessing. Our Lord Jesus made this clear in his fare message to Apostles that when the Holy Spirit has come upon them, they will become his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In Romans (8:16), St. Paul tells us that the Spirit Himself and our Spirit bear witness that we are the children of God.
Life of Prayer
Prayer is the only way we can communicate to God, and since God is Spirit, our prayers must move through the wavelength of the Spirit. The Gospel of John (4:24) tells us that the true worshippers of God are those who worship Him in Spirit and truth, and that is the kind of worship that pleases him. Furthermore, St. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us when we pray when we are helpless. He gives us the right utterances and dispositions for prayer.
Moving Forward to Receiving the Power from on High
Every feast of Pentecost offers us a new opportunity to receive fresh unction from on high. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is, therefore, not a one-time event. Our lives should be an on-going Pentecost experience since the Holy Spirit remains at work in the world, bringing renewal and transformation.
We need a New Pentecost in the world today, especially now that people are becoming hopeless and nearly helpless. We need a dependable guide to lead us out of darkness, and we need the excellent teacher to reveal the entire truth to us. We need the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit the embolden us in the face of the fears and uncertainties of our time. Let us come with intense desire, faith, humility, and sinless to make this rejuvenating encounter.
May the anointing power of the Holy Spirit bring deep-seated regeneration and rejuvenation to our lives.
God bless you.