Homilies/Reflections

  • I am the servant of the Lord.
  • The great promises that Angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary: (LK 1:31-33)
  • You will bear a son who will be called Jesus.
  • He will be great.
  • He will be called son of the most high.
  • God will give him the throne of King David.

Why we need the Holy Spirit more today - Fr Benny SVD
The unexpected death of Jesus Christ spelt a sudden end to the apostles’ great dreams. They thought they would have exclusively reserved prominent roles to play in the kingdom that Jesus had promised. They thought they would not have to suffer the hardships caused by the foreign rule any more. They would not have to experience the pangs of poverty any more. They would not have to suffer the miseries of living an undignified life any more.
Instead, what the death of Jesus brought was a sense of gloom. They were seized by a sense of fear, the fear of being hounded out and killed, the fear of being chased away from their own land, and the fear of getting separated from their dear and near ones. So they preferred to hide themselves behind the closed doors wondering what lay next.

Of course, Jesus had told them a number of times that after his death he would send the Holy Spirit to protect and guide them. But they did not understand what he had said. When the Holy Spirit finally came down upon them in the form of tongues, the miracle of miracles happened. Everything foretold became crystal clear. They understood all that Jesus had told them. Their fear disappeared. They felt emboldened, threw open the doors and trooped out to proclaim the message that Jesus had given them.

The climax came when Peter stood up and spoke about what happened to Jesus, what his earthly mission was, what his followers were called upon to do, and what he and other apostles intended to do. They then realised that the Holy Spirit was at work in their life. With this new realisation they set out to build the Church from the scratch, brick by brick.
It was not an easy task. Their path was neither smooth nor free from dangers. They were stepping out into a world where their enemies were waiting for their blood. The Pharisees, the Scribes and the teachers of the law – all of them were lying in wait to pounce upon them. Jesus, even after his confirmed death and burial, continued to be a threat. It was a threat to their very existence. And the apostles and their followers represented Christ whom they hated. So the only option before them was to take on them, and if possible decimate them for good.
Moreover the new religion that the apostles preached was quite different from what they themselves followed. It was not only revolutionary but also radical. It was something that touched the conscience of every sane person. Thus it stood in full contrast to what they believed and practised. That was why the massive conversions that they witnessed after the reported entry of the Holy Spirit unnerved them. They felt their power as well as their hold on the people was slipping away.

Finally the apostles’ open statement that it was better to obey the Holy Spirit than to follow the dictates of the authorities was the last nail on their coffin. This prompted the authorities to unleash a reign of terror on the hapless Christians. But nothing could snatch them away from the Holy Spirit. They willingly gave up their lives for the sake of Christ. Their strength was the Resurrection of Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit. They were willing to witness for Him in word and deed. They went ahead to plant the Church. Miracles and wonders followed. It was because God was with them. And they were led by the Holy Spirit.
Well all this happened more than 2000 years ago. However the situation today is no better either. The tradition of persecution still continues. The faithful are singled out to be led out and butchered in cold blood. The Church continues to face charges of corruption and rivalry from within. The list does not stop here.
Much more daunting is the task to defend the faith in today’s multi-religious and multi-cultural context. Sex abuse scandals, lack of evangelisation, gay marriage, and women as clergy continue to confront the Church. Most of the faithful think the Church should become more modern in her doctrine and beliefs. That is why our leaders and authorities need to be guided by the Holy Spirit much more than what happened in the early Church.

Sociological dimensions like caste, language and class also divide the Church today. In fact lack of personal experiences and convictions in the works of the Holy Spirit, coupled with lack of proper understanding - all these are great challenges before us today. The Word of God cannot take root and produce fruits in the lives of the people without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, of all the gifts God has bestowed on man, there is nothing greater than the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit plays many roles and functions in our life. Jesus has told his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit into the world to sit in judgement and punish the guilty (Jn 16:7-11). He says only this will bring man to salvation.
Once we are saved and made to belong to God, the Holy Spirit starts to dwell in us, transforming us into his children. The Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the hearts of his believers (Rom 8:9, 1 Cor 6:19, 12:13). Jesus has given the Spirit as compensation for his absence to perform the functions which he would have done if he had continued to live with us.
The Holy Spirit is the one who reveals of truth. His presence within us enables us to understand and interpret the Word of God. He has told his disciples that “When He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth (Jn 16:13). He reveals to our minds the whole counsel of God as it relates to worship, doctrine and Christian living. He is the ultimate guide, going before us, leading our way, removing all obstructions, opening our understanding and making all things plain and clear. He leads the way that we should walk to carry out all spiritual undertakings.

The Holy Spirit is the gift giver. The New Testament describes the spiritual gifts given to the believers in order that they could function as the body of Christ on earth (1 Cor 12). All these gifts both great and small are given by the Spirit so that we could be his ambassadors to the world, showing forth his grace and glorifying him.
The Holy Spirit also functions as the fruit producer in our lives. When he dwells in us, he begins the work of harvesting his fruits in our lives such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). These are not the works of our flesh, but they are the products of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
In short, the Holy Spirit is the main agent of the Church, leading her on her missionary path. This progressive mission is seen in the evangelism of the poor, walking the path of Christ in humility, poverty, servitude and self-sacrifice even to death to rise in the glorious resurrection. Only He can keep the Church close to the path that Christ has shown and travelled himself.
That the Holy Spirit is the key source of strength in today’s context is the first thing that the Church and every faithful need to realise. The increasing dependence on the Holy Spirit has to be made known if we want to take the Church to her rightful destination. May the Holy Spirit give us the wisdom and strength to make it happen.