THE SPIRIT OF PARADOX

“The Holy Spirit has been warning me from city to city that chains and hardships await me. I put no value on my life if only I can finish my race.” —Acts 20:23-24
 
The Holy Spirit, being God, is paradoxical. The Holy Spirit gives us light to see what we’ve never seen before. We can see into the future, receive insights about the past, and recognize in the present great opportunities, which we have never noticed before. At the same time, our life in the Holy Spirit often puts us in the position where we have no idea what will happen to us (see Acts 20:22). We see so much more, but we also see that our “so much more” is nothing compared to the blinding light of the mystery of God.
In the Holy Spirit, we receive not only light but life — abundant life (see Jn 10:10). The Spirit makes us more alive than ever before. Paradoxically, however, we receive this full life by dying to self. “Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed” (2 Cor 4:10). We have life in the Spirit only because we have death in the Spirit.
Human beings naturally fear paradoxes. Therefore, we fear mystery and the Holy Spirit. But the Lord repeatedly commands us not to fear, and He graces us accordingly. Jesus said: “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust” (Mk 5:36). Come, Holy Spirit!
 
Prayer: Father, on this fifth day of the Pentecost novena, I accept the grace to trust the Holy Spirit.
Promise: “Eternal life is this: to know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ.” —Jn 17:3
Praise: After resisting for years, Philip asked for prayers for the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit

From the treatise On the Holy Spirit
by
Saint Basil the Great, bishop
[ 330  – 379 A.D. ]
To the Spirit all creatures turn in their need for sanctification; all living things seek him according to their ability. His breath empowers each to achieve its own natural end.The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realise that they speak of nothing less than the supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.
  The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
  Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
  The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
  As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit shines become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
  From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of the mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations – we become God.

TWELVE WEAK MEN

“They answered, ‘We have not so much as heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ” —Acts 19:2
 
The Ephesian believers talked and acted in such a way that Paul questioned whether they had the Holy Spirit. In response to Paul’s question, the Ephesians said they had never heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul then found out they had only received the baptism of John. Paul proceeded to tell them about Jesus and baptize them. Then, “as Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and to utter prophecies” (Acts 19:6).
Although the Ephesians didn’t even know Jesus, they were able to receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit, both within a very short time. Why do some people receive the Spirit right away and others wait for months or even years? The Ephesians could receive the Holy Spirit without delay because they admitted their weakness. They admitted they didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2). In their weakness, God’s power reached perfection (2 Cor 12:9).
This accounts for the fact that women usually receive the Spirit more readily than men and new believers receive sooner than most of the “old-timers” of the church. The power of the Holy Spirit is not for those who pretend they’re powerful but for the “merest children” (Lk 10:21). Will you admit to being weak enough to receive the Spirit?
 
Prayer: Jesus, I am weak but You are strong. Baptize me in the Spirit.
Promise: “I tell you all this that in Me you may find peace. You will suffer in the world. But take courage! I have overcome the world.” —Jn 16:33
Praise: A few men in the parish formed a support group not only for themselves but their pastor, Fr. George.