A few years back I brought the whole family to the Ateneo bonfire, a traditional celebratory event to honour athletes and Blue Eagle champion teams. We had Holy Mass at the Gesu and then the fire-lighting ceremony followed after. While there was a drizzle that time, it didn’t bother us a bit. Looking at the wood fire, you can feel that the heat is greater, the flames deeper, and you can hear the popping of the wood, the sparks disappearing into the night sky, and the woody smell of the smoke. Fire is as old as life itself; fire is primal, fire is life. Gaze into the fire and you lose yourself, you bring yourself into time that transfigures your feelings as you live in the moment.
Pentecost is like that: it is life-giving fire. The Holy Spirit wraps us with that purifying life-giving brilliance and shows us what matters most, what our life mission is all about. If there’s someone holy that we should pray a lot to intercede for us, it should be the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been and will always be the constant strength and beckon of the Church from the time Jesus ascended into Heaven and up to the present day. Jesus had told the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit who will teach and remind them. Unaware of the upcoming events, Jesus words maybe were lost until the disciples remembered later. The Holy Spirit emboldened the disciples in the midst of their worries and fears and enabled the metamorphosis of timid followers into courageous and brave witnesses (Greek: ‘parakletos’, meaning: helper).
His words are very clear about the essential role of the Holy Spirit in our lives: He is our teacher. For the Lord’s followers, this is a very intimate formation and learning process. He calls us to discipleship (Latin: ‘advocare’, meaning: to call). God’s work here on earth is truly our own, with the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit calls us to be Christ’s disciples and strengthens our aspirations to be the Body of Christ in this weary world. It is God’s Spirit who is the catalyst in our growth in knowledge and wisdom.
The Spirit won’t come to us in the same way that God called on Moses in the burning bush. Or like Jesus suddenly appearing before us and mesmerizing us. Those instances are rare. The Spirit will build on us slowly, transfiguring us in a way that is not as instant as 3-in-1 coffee. It’s more like wood fire: as the wood consumes itself, the flames die down and the embers lose the heat, so if we keep adding more wood to the dying flames it will be revived and can last a long time, even for as long as we live if we like it.
Our faith is like that. Oftentimes we experience spiritual dryness as we are caught in the anxieties and concerns of life, the distractions brought about by our other roles. Worry and fear overshadow us and our faith and love for Jesus die down. We are distracted by other events. To revive our faith and our zeal for the Lord, we need to put another log into the fire. We need to meditate on God’s word, go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, attend Masses, receive Holy Communion. Behold, the fire of Pentecost is bright again! Perhaps what is compelling for us this Pentecost is to study more closely the role of the Spirit, as we need to reflect more upon what is happening in our lives. We need to actively seek the wisdom to understand God’s purpose for all that we are experiencing through.
Is there anything blocking us from receiving fully the Spirit’s love and guidance?
“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.” (Is. 55: 6)