Christian Identity: The Presence of the Holy Spirit

I will pour out my spirit on everyone; your sons and daughters will proclaim my message; your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. At that time I will pour out my spirit even on servants, both men and women (Joel 2:28).

But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Terrified by the execution of Jesus, the disciples take refuge in a house known to them. Once more they are reunited, but Jesus is not with them. There is an emptiness no one can fill. They miss Jesus. Whom will they follow now? What will they be able to do without him? “Night is falling” in Jerusalem and also in the hearts of the disciples. Inside the house they remain “with doors shut.” It’s a community without a mission and no horizon, closed in on itself, with no heart to welcome anyone. No one thinks now of going to the highways to announce the Kingdom of God and heal life. With doors closed, it is no longer possible to reach out to the suffering of people.  The disciples are full of “fear of the Jews”. It’s a community paralyzed by fear, on the defensive. They only see hostility and rejection on all sides. Where there’s fear it is not possible to love the world as Jesus did, or to inspire courage and hope.  Suddenly the Risen Jesus takes the initiative. He comes to rescue his followers. “He enters the house and places himself in their midst.” The little community gets transformed. From fear they change over to the peace with which Jesus fills them. From the darkness of the night they move to the joy of seeing him again full of life. From closed doors they will soon change to the openness of the mission. Jesus speaks to them putting all his faith in those miserable men: “As the Father sent me, so too I send you.” He does not tell them to whom they must go, what message they must deliver, nor how to behave all the while. Already they have been able to learn from him along the roads in Galilee. They will be in the world what he has been.  Jesus knows the weakness of his disciples. He has often found fault with the little, vacillating faith they have.

They need the power of his Spirit to fulfill his mission. So he makes a special gesture for them. He does not place his hands on them, nor does he bless them as he would do for the sick. He breathes on them and says:”Receive the Holy Spirit.” Only Jesus will save the Church. Only he will save us from the fears that paralyze us, he will break the tiresome structures in which we try to enclose him, he will open the many doors we have gone on shutting all through the centuries, he will straighten the many roads that have turned us away from him.  What we are now being asked is to revive much more in the whole Church is to trust in the Risen Jesus, to organize ourselves to place him fearlessly in the center of our parishes and communities and concentrate all our energies in listening well to what his Spirit is saying to his followers, both men and women.

Pope Francis says that the Christian identity does not come from one’s knowledge of theology, but rather, the presence of the Holy Spirit. “Now, we have the thought of Christ and that is the Spirit of Christ. This is the Christian identity. Not having the spirit of the world, that way of thinking, that way of judging. You can have five degrees in theology, but not have the Spirit of God! Maybe you’ll be a great theologian, but you are not a Christian because you do not have the Spirit of God! That which gives authority, that which gives identity is the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Holy Spirit”. “The authority of Jesus – and the authority of the Christian – comes from this ability to understand the things of the Spirit, to speak the language of the Spirit. It is from this anointing of the Holy Spirit. Often, so often, we find among our faithful, simple old women who perhaps didn’t even finish elementary school, but who can speak to us of things better than any theologian, because they have the Spirit of Christ. Exactly like St. Paul we all need to ask for this. Lord grant us Christian identity, which You had. Grant us Your Spirit. Grant us Your way of thinking, feeling, speaking: May the Lord grant us the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Only God can provide everlasting peace. God sends the Holy Spirit to make people’s hearts be at peace, aware, but not anesthetized. “For example, it offers us the peace of wealth: ‘I am at peace because I have everything I need, everything organized for my whole life, and I do not have to worry.’ This is a peace that the world gives. Do not worry; you won’t have any problems because you have so much money … the peace of wealth. And Jesus tells us not to trust this peace, because with great realism he tells us: ‘Look, there are thieves. Thieves may steal your wealth!’ Money does not give you a definitive peace. Just think, metal also rusts! What does it mean? “

The peace of Jesus is a Person, the Holy Spirit! On the same day of the Resurrection, He comes to the Upper Room and His greeting is: ‘Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit’. This is the peace of Jesus: it is a Person, it is a great gift. And when the Holy Spirit is in our hearts, no one can remove His peace. No one! It is a definitive peace! So what is our task? To custody this peace. Safeguard it! It is a great peace, a peace that is not mine, it belongs to another Person who gives it to me, another Person who is in my heart and accompanies me all the days of my life. The Lord has given it to me.” “If you have this peace of the Spirit, if you have the Holy Spirit within you, and you are aware of this, let not your heart be troubled. Be sure! Paul told us that we must first pass through many tribulations to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But we all, so many, tribulations to be saved everyday. Some bigger, some smaller … ‘ But let not your heart be troubled, and this is the peace of Jesus. The presence of the Spirit that makes our heart be at peace. Not anesthetized, no! At peace! Aware, but at peace with the peace that only God’s presence gives.”

The Five “Paraclete Passages:

John 14:16-17: The Paraclete as HELPER/ COMFORTER:” I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God.  The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.

John  14:26: The Paraclete as TEACHER/ MEMORY:  “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.”

John 15:26-27: The Paraclete as WITNESS:  “The Helper will come—the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me. And you, too, will speak about me, because you have been with me from the very beginning.

John 16:7-11: The Paraclete as PROSECUTOR: I am telling you the truth; it is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. But if I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove to the people of the world that they are wrong about sin and about what is right and about God’s judgment. They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me; they are wrong about what is right, because I am, going to the Father and you will not see me anymore; and they are wrong about judgment, because the ruler of this world has already been judged.”

John 16:12-15: The Paraclete as REVEALER/ GUIDE INTO THE TRUTH: “I have much more to tell you, but now it would be too much for you to bear. When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own authority, but he will speak of what he hears, and will tell you of things to come. He will give me glory, because he will take what I say and tell it to you. All that my Father has is mine; that is why I said that the Spirit will take what I give him and tell it to you.

We are sure that we live in union with God and that he lives in union with us, because he has given us his Spirit. (1 John 4:13).

Elsy Mathew