Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Today's Readings:
Acts 16:11-15
Ps 149:1b-6a,9b
John 15:26--16:4a

Bearing witness to the truth of Christ

In unity with the Holy Spirit, precisely because the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, we are empowered to successfully give testimony about Jesus Christ. And with this enablement comes great responsibility. We cannot ignore the call to be evangelizers — not without committing the sin of omission.

Then the question is not IF but HOW: How are we to do this in our ordinary, everyday lives and circumstances?

In today's Gospel passage, Jesus defines the gift that the Church received on Pentecost (and which we received in baptism when we became members of the Church) as "the Advocate." In the original Greek, this translates as "Paraclete", which comes from "parakalein", which means "to invoke" ("para" is "with" and "kalein" is "to call").

From this name we can conclude that Jesus was telling us to invoke or call upon the help of his Spirit. He wants us to know that we are capable of doing whatever the Father asks of us, despite our human limitations, if we rely on the Holy Spirit.

Notice what kind of help Jesus focuses on here. He refers to the Paraclete/Advocate as "the Spirit of truth" who testifies to others about Jesus. How? Not by emails from heaven. God's Spirit teaches the truth about Jesus to the world through me and through you!

To what extent does your everyday life bear witness to the truth about Christ's love? Or his saving power? The more we invoke the Holy Spirit, repenting of sin and asking God to increase our holiness, the more we testify to the truth in our daily circumstances.

We need to invoke the Holy Spirit whenever we're tempted to fight with someone rather than turn the other cheek, or whenever we feel selfish instead of generous, and so on. We grow in holiness by asking the Spirit of Holiness to teach us how to imitate Christ whenever we're unable to do so on our own.

We cannot bring others to conversion or successfully invite them back to church through our own choice of words, our own wisdom, and our own understanding of what they're seeking. It's only the Spirit of Truth who provides us with the right way to reach their hearts. And it's only the Spirit of Truth who prepares their hearts and gives them an understanding of the truth that you give them.

Whenever we testify against Christ, through decisions and behaviors that are unGodly, we must turn quickly to the Holy Spirit, repent, and ask for help.

"If you realize that I believe in the Lord, come and stay at my house," said Lydia in today's first reading. Are the people around you convinced that you believe in the Lord? They will be, if you continue to grow in the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.


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