It’s impossible to live the life of a Christian without the help of the Holy Spirit. But to appreciate the role of the Spirit in the life of a Christian we have to start with Jesus himself. Even Jesus needed the Spirit. The Spirit had a big role to play in his life. The Spirit descended on him at his baptism, revealing him as the Father’s beloved Son.
At his baptism he also received power from on high for the mission he was about to begin. The Spirit was not just given for a moment; the Spirit remained with him throughout his public ministry. Jesus was continually led, strengthened and guided by the Spirit.
He began his ministry by making his own the lovely words of Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.”
What a beautiful mission. And how faithful he was to it. Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and power went out from him through his gracious words and compassionate deeds.
It was the Spirit who opened the minds of his disciples and
helped them to understand the meaning of his death. When he was raised up to
glory at the right hand of the Father, Jesus poured out the Spirit on those who
were to carry on his
mission. The Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, individually and collectively. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they began their mission. And we see the great courage and confidence with which they did so.
And the same Spirit descends on us at our Baptism and Confirmation. The Spirit is not given for a moment but accompanies us on our journey in the footsteps of Jesus. The Spirit gives us power to participate in the work of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is our strength in times of weakness, our guide in times of doubt, our consoler in times of sadness, our advocate who always pleads our cause. We can’t take even one step without the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Wisdom, understanding, and counsel (right judgment) guide our mind and assist our conscience in knowing right from wrong. Fortitude (courage) enables us to do the right thing even when it is difficult or unpopular. Fear of the Lord is really awe and reverence for God.
St. Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). The Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are beautiful things, and make life joyful.
The coming of the Spirit provided the apostles with the energy, the courage, and the love to get on with the task Christ had given them. The Holy Spirit will do that for us if we invite him.