Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
When you were baptized, you were baptized according to Jesus’ instructions, with water and the Holy Spirit. Jesus even gave us the words of Baptism,
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, ….
The priest or deacon anointed your head with the Oil of Chrism, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, after baptizing with water.
When you were confirmed, the Bishop or priest said,
Receive the Holy Spirit
And he anointed you on your head with the Oil of Chrism.
Because of that Gospel reading, you have all received the Holy Spirit. Now, you must learn how to live with it. That requires teaching and a willingness to learn. Imagine if I were to give a child a bicycle, but he had not learned how to ride it. It might still be in the garage, he or she has not yet learned to ride it. Or, imagine if I were to give you each an airplane. You would have to learn how to fly it, or it would always stay on earth. That is the way it is with the Holy Spirit. Before or after Baptism, teaching and learning must happen. Jesus tells us to teach and make disciples. Listen again to his words,
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
“Make disciples of all nations, … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
We often put up barriers to our learning; barriers to the work of the Spirit, even when we have received it. Consequently we don’t grow in the Spirit.
How can we learn to grow in the Holy Spirit? If you can say Jesus is Lord, in your heart and with your lips that Jesus is Lord, that is the work of the Holy Spirit in you.
St. Paul says,
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
If that is difficult for you, to say out loud, “Jeus is Lord”, then you have not learned how to ride the bicycle.
Have you learned how the Holy Spirit works? Listen to St. Paul,
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
Everyone here who has been Baptized and Confirmed has received the Holy Spirit. However, you may not have begun to learn how to ride the bicycle. Perhaps you left it in the garage. How can you be certain you have grown in the Spirit? Look at the gifts of the Spirit in your life.
The purpose of the spiritual gifts is to edify, build up, exhort, encourage, and comfort the church.
If you experience love, you have experienced the Holy Spirit. We are not speaking of the way the world loves, but a self-sacrificing kind of love. That comes from the Holy Spirit.
You can talk to the Holy Spirit. If you ask the Holy Spirit for Faith, or Love or Patience, or Wisdom, or Prudence, … , these things are given to us by the Holy Spirit.
On my recent pilgrimage to Europe, we visited Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Rome. We encountered large crowds in these places, with people from every part of the world, speaking languages from all over the world. They were always praying, in many languages. These were the same prayers we were praying. I have experienced the same thing in Tepayac at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Hundreds of thousands of people come together and they are always peaceful, prayerful, patient, and kind. Those places are full of peace. When we observe similar large gatherings of people in secular or worldly settings we rarely observe this peace. Instead, there is almost always a kind of tension. Look at football game, or a large concert or a public demonstration. You can know the absence of the Spirit in the tension you recognize. You can actually observe the presence or absence of the gifts of the Spirit wherever you go.
Know yourself. If you are having a difficult time becoming peaceful, know that the world is attracting or distracting you. You are probably closed to the Holy Spirit, allowing the the world to bother you. Recognize that.
When you find yourself stressed, or impatient or angry or irritated, stop. Pray, learn to ride the bicycle. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gifts you have already been given. Ask for peace. Ask for patience. Ask for wisdom. Ask for prudence. Ask for forgiveness. Ask. Jesus tells us it will be given to us. You can learn to ride the bicycle if you ask.
And, trust the Church. Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of his resurrection, and formed them into our Church.
… he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
This was the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession, and forgiveness and healing, in the Holy Spirit.
Learn to trust the Church. Know her gifts. Know your gifts. Learn to ride the bicycle, with the Help of the Holy Spirit.