Witnessing by the Holy Spirit

John 3: 31-36
Acts 5:27-33 / Ps 34

He does not ration His gift of the Holy Spirit.
(John 3:34)

May the gifts of the Holy Spirit be
A strong testimony of His love,
So others may see how trustworthy
Is “the One Who comes from above.”

(John the Baptist told his disciples,) “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of earthly things. But the One who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what He has seen and heard, but no one accepts His testimony. Whoever accepts His testimony certifies that God is true. For the One whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration His gift of the Holy Spirit. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things to Him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; but whoever disobeys the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” (John 3:31-36)

Reflection

In today’s First Reading, St. Peter boldly faced the Sanhedrin, and filled with the Holy Spirit, said, “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus (from the dead), though you had Him killed … We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:30,32). All the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin seethed in anger and wanted to kill them. As opposed to the apostles, these religious leaders of the Jews obviously had no portion of the Holy Spirit in them (“the wrath of God remains upon [them]”).

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist also testified that Jesus had come from heaven, and humbly said, “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn.3:30). He only came first in order to herald the Messiah’s coming. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he urged his followers to believe in Jesus as the Son of God for them to have eternal life.

We are blessed to have the saints and early martyrs of the Church like St. Peter, St. John and St. Paul as our models of humility and great courage, inspiring us to take up the challenge of following our Lord Jesus as they did. As opposed to them, we know that those who take pride in their own power or abilities, usually choose to follow a way apart from God’s will. Their choice inevitably leads to death — a spiritual death that poisons the heart and shrivels the soul until nothing is left but an empty shell devoid of love, truth, peace, and joy.

These past few days, the whole world witnessed with trepidation the rantings of such a man of evil power – Kim Jong Un, threatening to plunge his poor country into a senseless war or economic sanctions that North Korea can ill afford. He will only follow the tragic path of similar death-obsessed leaders before him, like Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Khaddafy, etc. Their power was sustained by a different kind of spirit, poisoned by violence, and driven by a passion to destroy civil society. Clearly, “the wrath of God remains upon him.”

In this season of Easter, the Scripture readings highlight the message that our Lord Jesus imparted to his disciples before He ascended into heaven: God the Father has poured His Spirit in full measure on those who have chosen to believe, and be at peace. As the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles and revealed God’s truth to them, so does He enable us to receive His gifts and understand God’s Word. For us the choice is never a hard one to make: everlasting life or everlasting death.

Father in heaven, pour out Your Holy Spirit in full measure, so that we may employ His gifts for the glory of Your kingdom here on earth, and live according to all Your decrees. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

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