FR MICHAEL BIBLICAL IMAGERY
(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)
LET THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCEND…
The school of discipleship was far from completion when Jesus was taken up to heaven. Before his departure, Jesus himself knew that the formation of his disciples was at its novitiate stage that is why I would like to think that he promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit was to teach, refine and consolidate the disciples in the Lord. The disciples were like good seeds discovered by Jesus to make out of them fine loaves of bread after his own image (the bread of life).
Permit me to remind you on how we get bread. First, the seeds of wheat need grinding, then sieving, then separation of chaff from the flour, then the flour is baked into loaves before they enter into the oven to get ready to be given out. People always celebrate the final product of the bread but as for the refining processes they at times lose sight of it; but those stages are the most important stages of the final product.
Jesus picked the good seeds (the disciples) and ground them in his word Even though the disciples did not fully conceive what the Lord taught them, Jesus knew the process had begun and it will be the work of the Holy Spirit to fine tune them towards readiness and perfection. We like the disciples have been called and chosen as selected seeds, good for purpose. It is the hope of the Lord that we will allow ourselves to be ground in his word and sacrament at that initial stage of our formation. The reception of God’s word and the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation does not automatically makes one a refined and perfect Christian. It takes the continuous work of the Holy Spirit to bring a Christian to a mature state of perfection.
When the Holy Spirit becomes active in a Christian and is operational, one may see some of the following effects:
The first one is what I call “Change of status.” When the Holy Spirit descends on a believer and makes his/her heart his home, he does not only transform the person but transfigures him/her to radiate Christ. At times the change of status become so evident that the person may lose touch with his/her formal self. Countless examples of this can be found in the scriptures but permit me to cite one. In Acts 4:13, the inspired writer tells us that after the defense of Saints Peter and John, some members of the Sanhedrin became so impressed that they lost sight of the Apostles’ former identity. We are told that they said: “aren’t these men fishermen? Where did they get this wisdom from?” But another said: “they have been with the Lord.” When you come to be with the Lord and the Holy Spirit takes possession of you, he changes your status to the glory of God. And so, St Paul will say, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…” (2 Cor. 5;17).
The second effect is “Change of attitude.” If the Holy Spirit takes hold of a Christian’s life, his attitude to life changes from mundane/earthly things to that of divine and heavenly things. It was such change of attitude that may have inspired St Paul to remark: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” If it is not change of attitude, who in his/her right senses will perceive death as gain? It takes a person who has been intoxicated by the Holy Spirit like St Paul to employ such semantics.
The third effect is that, one moves from “Hide-outs into the world of bearing witness.” Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were in their hideout in the upper room for fear of the Jews. The descent of the Holy Spirit empowered them to the extent that they became fearless and bold. St Peter who was living in fear now came out preaching to the masses. We are told he made over five thousand converts that day. If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, one can’t but preach about Christ. Jeremiah will say: “I will forget the Lord and no longer speak in his name, but then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I was weary of holding it back, and I could not…” (Jeremiah 20:9ff). For these years I have been a priest, I will say that when the Holy Spirit is on you, it is like “an existential Yes, one cannot do otherwise…To live is to preach about Christ.”
The Holy Spirit is our teacher and defense attorney. Trust me that, if the Holy Spirit is on you he will inspire you on what to say. What the Holy Spirit inspires us to say or preach is beyond our understanding. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide here on earth to do God’s work so that ultimately, we may inherit the eternal prize that await us at the end of time. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP PRAY FOR US.