The Holy Spirit is one in being with the Father and the Son as the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is equal to God in all ways; the Holy Spirit is God. There are numerous references to the Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Spirit has been at work with the Father and the Son since the beginning of time to bring about the plan for humankind’s salvation. During creation the Holy Spirit is referred to as the wind of God.
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
The Holy Spirit active through history
The Holy Spirit was actively involved in the lives of people throughout the Old Testament period empowering individuals to carry out specific missions. In 1 Samuel we read that when Samuel grew old and was no longer able to serve as a judge God allowed Samuel to listen to the voice of the people and appoint a king to rule over them. After Samuel anointed Saul he told him that the Spirit of God would came upon him and he would receive the gift of prophecy. “When they came to there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them” (1 Samuel 10:10).
The prophet Micah chastised the people of Israel because they did not follow the teachings of God, but rather slipped into evil ways. Micah through the power of the Holy Spirit was able to stay the course. “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin” (Micah 3:8).
In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is mentioned for the first time in the first chapter of Matthew. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).
Ever present, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove at his baptism. “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased" (Mark 1:9-12).
Gifts of the Spirit
The Church teaches that one receives the gifts of the Spirit at baptism and that these gifts are strengthened at confirmation, so that one can proclaim the truths of the faith.
"The reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For 'by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1285).
Through prayer, humility and a deep desire for the things of God one is able to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are to be used to work towards the reign of God in the world today. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are:
- Wisdom: to guide one in discerning God’s will
- Understanding: gives one insight into the teachings of the Christian faith
- Counsel: gives one the ability and knowledge of what to do in a variety of situations
- Fortitude: gives one the strength to obey and to do God’s will at all times
- Knowledge: gives one the ability to discern the will of God in all things
- Piety: helps one to deepen their love for God
- Fear of the Lord: helps one to avoid sin and to dread offending God
Fruit of the Spirit
In Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians we learn that if one faithfully lives the Christian life that their live will “bear fruit” and that they will come to acquire certain visible attributes.
Paul illustrates with these attributes the kind of love that marks a true Christian life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
After the resurrection, Jesus remained with his followers for 40 days. As the time draw near for his departure Jesus comforted his grieving disciples with the promise of the coming of another Paraclete to replace him. This Paraclete was the Holy Spirit, who would come as a friend and comforter; one who would be an advocate for the people to give them the strength to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ in the world. The Holy Spirit ascended upon the faithful on the day of Pentecost with the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Tongues like that of fire came to rest upon the people and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign languages previously unknown to them.
The Holy Spirit continues to be active in the world today drawing all people to Jesus Christ so that they can continue the work began by Christ’s earthly mission. If we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us we will be able to restrain evil, to transform our world, to bring reconciliation, forgiveness and love, to share our material goods the best way we can so that the reign of God will break forth among us in a more clear and powerful way.
The work of the Holy Spirit:
- as the One who breathed creation into being
- as the one who empowered the prophets of old
- as the one who is active in the world today
Today I call on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my daily activities.
Today I will use the gifts of the Holy Spirit received at my baptism.
Today I will commit to partnering with the Holy Spirit to help usher in the reign of God.
- How was the Holy Spirit active in the lives of the Old Testament prophets?
- What are the gifts of the Spirit and how should these gifts be used?
- How is the Holy Spirit active I the world today?
Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them
the fire of your love.