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  My Witness

Vol. 7, No. 2, April, 2002

The Holy Spirit -- Agent of Evangelization, Part 3
by Sr. Brigid Meierotto, S.N.C.

Sister Brigid "Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit."

I am beginning each message of this series with this quote from Pope Paul VI, paragraph 75 of Evangelization in the Modern World. The lack of zeal in evangelizing may very well be due to people not knowing the Agent of Evangelization the Holy Spirit!

Today we are going to meet the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Power - power to bring life out of death!

The Easter shout: "Jesus is risen!" was a cry of astonishment at God's power which broke out in Jesus, 'crucified through weakness but living through the power of God.' "Jesus is risen!" is also our shout of victory and hope!

Through his resurrection Jesus was established Son of God in all his power; he became the Lord, to whom all power is given (Romans 1:4):

"and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead."
The vigor of God, if we can talk about God in such human terms, is totally invested in this work of raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrection is the eternal action of the Father at work within the world, as Ps. 2:7 says, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you" (Acts 13:33).

The Holy Spirit is, in person, the action of God which raises Jesus Christ from the dead (Rm. 8:11):

"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you."
Here Paul speaks of the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead; the Spirit of the resurrection in which the infinite power of the Father is sent forth. Jesus Christ was crucified through weakness and still he lives through the power of God (2 Cor. 13:4).

Peter proclaims it clearly and simply in his first letter (1 Pt. 3:18):

"In the body he was put to death, in the Spirit he was raised to life."
We find the two words, Spirit and power, used together throughout the bible. The strength of the Spirit is opposed to the weakness of the flesh, flesh being us, the creature, in our closed in, self-centered autonomy, deprived of energy from on high.

The strength of the Holy Spirit is the strength of God that comes down on us from above, seizes us, as in 1 Sm. 16:13, and clothes us with himself:

"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward."
The Spirit of counsel and power will rest on the new David, on Jesus (Is. 11:2):
"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord."

In the fullness of time then, the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, and the power of the Most High covers her with its shadow. The Holy Spirit and the power of the most high are the same (Lk. 1:35):

And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."
Can you imagine such an event?! Beyond comprehension the incarnation! The Holy Spirit, who is all power, comes down from on high, making this woman, Mary, capable of being the mother of a child, the very Son of God, proving that nothing is impossible with God (Lk. 1:37).

Jesus, the first and greatest evangelizer, began his ministry with the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14):

"And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country."
Jesus experienced the Holy Spirit, his power, and he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went to the synagogue on the sabbath and read from Isaiah about himself (Luke 4:18f):
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
And sitting down, Jesus said, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).

Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38), shatters the power of the devils by the finger of God, that is, by his power which is a characteristic of the Kingdom of God (Lk. 11:20; Mt. 12:28). Jesus heals the sick, forgives, makes the blind to see and the lame to walk (Luke 7:18-23)!

Are you ready for this question? Do you know that this same power, the Holy Spirit, is poured out upon us after Jesus' resurrection? (Acts 1:8):

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."
We see by reading the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters, that in the early Church, the Holy Spirit and power are continually kept together (1 Thes. 1:4f):
"For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."
From this testimony, and many other passages in the bible, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit is the omnipotence of God, the power of God. In Mt. 26:64, Power is the name given to God.

You are seeing, I am sure, that the Spirit is God in his infinite action. The Holy Spirit is the personification of action. So, whenever God is doing something: when he creates, when he intervenes in history, when he enters into creation through the incarnation, when he raises Jesus from the dead, when he establishes a covenant between himself and his people, when he begets an eternal Son all of this is brought about in the Spirit who is the power and the action of God.

Remember what I mentioned before: this Power of the Spirit is not the kind of power that we human beings strive for.

In the work that Jesus accomplished, his ministry, his passion and death, the truest form of power is all grace, it is infinite love, given in the absolute weakness of Jesus' death (1 Cor. 1:24f).

So that we will have the true understanding of the nature of the Holy Spirit, we need to remember the manifestation of the Spirit at the beginning of the Gospel and at the end (Lk. 1:35; Jn. 19:34):

And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."

"But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth - that you also may believe."

Pray over, ponder this continuing introduction to the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Power. How do I relate to this Holy Spirit? Write down your reflections. The Holy Spirit himself will teach you, you have Jesus' promise.

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