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  My Witness

Vol. 7, No. 4, November, 2002

The Holy Spirit -- Agent of Evangelization, Part 5
by Sr. Brigid Meierotto, S.N.C.

Sister Brigid "Evangelization will never be possible without the action of the Holy Spirit" (Pope Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, par. 75).

Here in the fifth message of this series of getting to know the Agent of Evangelization, we will get acquainted with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Holiness.

In the bible, power, glory and holiness are all used to speak about the Holy Spirit, the divine Breath (Is. 6:3).

Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth (the Almighty): his glory fills the whole earth."

Holiness is God in his infinite grandeur! God is called the Holy One because he is transcendent, he is far above and beyond us (Hos. 11:9; Ps. 71:22; Is. 5:24; Hab. 3:3).

The Holy Spirit is transcendence, he is from above, he is strength from on high (Acts 1:8) who comes down, he comes upon someone (Num. 11:17, 25; Jg. 3:10; Is. 11:2). Jesus is about to return to the Father and tells his disciples in 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."
When Jesus is beginning his public ministry, John the Baptist baptizes him in the Jordan and the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove (Mk. 1:10).

It is the heavenly Father (Lk. 11:13) who sends the Spirit; he doesn't have to be begged, he wants to send his Spirit:

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Spirit to those who ask him."
The Holy Spirit is sent from heaven (Jn. 14:26):
"But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."
Doesn't this sound like the Holy Spirit is looking for an intimate relationship with us? Counselor, teacher, recalling to our minds what Jesus has said he and Jesus are together in this relationship with us.

The Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples at Pentecost like a wind from heaven (Acts 2:2), filling them, giving them utterance. They are born of the Spirit, born from above, and, as Jesus tells Nicodemus, are now able to see and to enter into the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3, 5):

Jesus answered him, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
Jesus is consecrated to God through the presence of the Spirit (Acts 10:38; Rm. 1:4). So Jesus is called the Holy One of God (Mk. 1:24; Jn. 6:69; Acts 3:14).

In Heb. 5:9 we see that Jesus is made perfect with the perfection which is transcendence and glory, because the fullness of divinity, the Holy Spirit, lives in Jesus' body (Col. 2:9).

We can say, then, that the Holy Spirit is holiness in person. As we grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit as the Agent of evangelization, it is very important that we know this truth. Holiness is God in the fulness of his being: the Spirit is holiness, he is the transcendent totality of being.

We are able to say that the Holy Spirit is the reality, because apart from him, we are in shadow, without meaning, and destined to die. The opposite of the Spirit (Gal. 5:17), is a flesh which is of sin and death.

Even the Ten Life giving Words, the Ten Commandments, are lifeless and bring death instead of life if the Holy Spirit doesn't animate our observance of the Law (2 Cor. 3: 5b:6)

"our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life."
It is Jesus Christ, in whom the Spirit dwells, who is the profound reality of history. He is the spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) who gives meaning to everything.

The word holiness, as we find it in the scriptures, has the sense of separation. God is wholly other in relation to us, meaning, we don't have anything in common! So, how can we get together? The Holy Spirit brings about paradox.

The Holy Spirit is God in his power, in his action, in his outpouring. So rather than being separated from us, the Holy One who is wholly other, is intimately bound to us.

How do we receive the Spirit? The Holy Spirit comes down, overflows, is given--he is power, he energizes us for our mission of evangelization. The Holy Spirit is glory. He transfigures us, transforms us, and makes us into the image of Jesus for all to see. The Holy Spirit is holiness. He puts meaning into our existence, making us free, giving us the freedom of the Spirit.

Jesus Christ, risen in the Spirit, is sent into the world by the very power that exalts him in God. You see how this Agent works - we are exalted to God - holiness - and are sent into the world to bring Jesus!

It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us (2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Pt. 1:2; Rm. 15:16; 1 Cor. 6:11) with a sanctity that is not separation, but is openness and nearness and communication. Anything that separates and isolates, like sin, selfishness al the words of the flesh (Gal. 5:17; Rm. 8:2), are in opposition to the Spirit.

I dare say that most of us, when we speak of the Holy Spirit being the Agent of evangelization, do not know what we are saying. As the Agent, it is the Holy Spirit within us who is acting, who is speaking, who is melting hearts for Jesus.

Ponder, pray, reflect - the Holy Spirit is delighted to speak to you!

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