Previous Sunday, Jesus gave a consoling word of assurance to his disciples which portrays his loving heart and consistent support at all times. He encouraged them, “let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me”. He also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.” This assuring words of Jesus Christ continues in today’s gospel reading as a farewell speech. Jesus counselled his disciples that if they love him, they will keep his commandments, and he will ask his Heavenly Father, and he will give them another Counsellor. This promise of sending the Holy Spirit is in affirmation of the prophesy of Joel that states “afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves in those days I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28-29). It is this same Spirit of God that possessed Philip in the First Reading as he preached the gospel of Christ without fear or earthly favour and great signs and wonders were confirmed as unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, the paralysed and lame got divine healing, and more importantly great multitudes got converted, baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Now, it becomes clearer that in the unfolding of salvation history, the promise of the Holy Spirit brings to completion the Paschal Mystery, that is, the definitive work of God the Redeemer, and inaugurates a new era of God the Counsellor, the Advocate and the Paraclete who sanctifies, transforms, animates and speaks on our behalf in prayers.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who love God the Father and obey his commandments. The action words “to know”, “to love” and “to keep” the commandments are the key terms used by Christ for the reception of the promised Advocate. It then follows that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in empty vessels but actively present in those who cooperate with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God the Father. My dear friends in Christ, just like the disciples, we are reminded of our catechetical teaching of why God created us. That is, He made us to know him, to love him and to serve him by keeping his commandments. Each time any individual fail to live up to the demands of Jesus’ commandment, he or she simply betrays the love of God and relegates the promise of Christ. In Love, Christ obeyed the Father and took our nature to save us. Hence, he also wants us as Christians to obey the Father in order to be saved and to help to save others. The commandments he is referring are his teachings, the gospel he preached and the good works he performed during his missionary enterprise on earth. it is pertinent to realize that the promise of the Holy Spirit is to spiritually equip his disciples and the Church at large in carrying out the public ministry of faith in proclaiming the gospel message and administering the Sacrament of his love in all nations of the earth. That is why the sacrament of Confirmation which is the reception of the Holy Spirit makes us strong Christians, perfect Christians and soldiers of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is by the Holy Spirit that we are anointed and united into the Church’s fold as Children of God during our Baptism; in Confirmation we receive spiritual seal as courageous Church militant i.e. (Soldiers of Christ) by the same Holy Spirit.
Also, the bread and wine at Eucharistic celebrations is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ that nourishes us with eternal life. In the Sacrament of Penance, it is the Holy Spirit that initiates contrition for sins and the graces for sincere conversion. In the Anointing of the Sick the Comforter gives bodily and spiritual comfort to the recipient. In Holy Orders, the same Holy Spirit promised by Jesus Christ the High Priest, configures the ordained individual to act in the person of Christ. While in Marriage, the Holy Spirit is the seal of the covenant, which the couple freely consents to and gives the grace needed to live out the Sacrament of Matrimony. The promise of the Holy Spirit is very key in the economy of our salvation and we also need the same Spirit to be strong in faith and to understand the mysteries of God’s plan for mankind. To this end, Pope Francis said that “we can study the whole history of salvation, we can study the whole of theology, but without the Spirit we cannot understand. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us realize the truth or know the voice of Jesus.” The Church will continue to relish and pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide and guard her to love and keep the commandments of God. In our society and our world filled with moral decadence, wars, economy contentions, ethnical tensions, tribal sentiments, political conflicts, racial discriminations, religious threat cum persecutions we need the Holy Spirit of God to rekindle the fire of love and renew the face of the earth. As we focus our expectation of the promise of Christ on Pentecost day, let us continue to love God and keep his word. Let us focus on the faith not our fears, focus on the Spirit not in the flesh, focus on eternal glory not on ungodly story, focus on God’s commandment not on satanic enticement of the world. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide with us all. Amen.