“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send now Your Spirit over the earth. Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations, that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war. May the Lady of all Nations, who once was Mary, be our Advocate. Amen.”
This was the prayer given by Our Lady at Amsterdam in 1945. It has been 75 years since our Mother appealed to her children to pray for pouring out the Holy Spirit upon the human race. In the famous book ‘To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons’ containing the messages received by Fr Stefano Gobbi, Mary gave another prayer, which reads; ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come by means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved Spouse.’
Before instructing her children to recite this prayer as often as possible to invoke the Holy Spirit, Mary also revealed the reason for this in the following words: ‘This will be for her (Church’s) second Pentecost. For this reason, I invite you to repeat often in the cenacles, the prayer that I have asked of you”.
Why should our Mother stress on the urgent need for praying to get the anointment of Holy Spirit? It has something to do with the times we are living. We are at the threshold of a new era promised by our Lord. Pouring out the Spirit on all flesh is to prepare the humanity for this great event as the Church is eagerly waiting for the second Pentecost. We know we are living in the days about which Joel prophesied; ‘Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions’ ( Joel 2:28).
We are preparing for the feast of Pentecost. As we know, this year’s Pentecost will be a little different from what we have been used to. In many countries, there will not be public worship. People are still under the grip of fear as COVID19 is yet to abate. World is gradually plunging into deeper crises both socially and economically.
Everyday we listen preachers calling on us to pray for the anointment of Holy Spirit. No gospel preaching concludes without a call for fervent prayer to get the anointment of Holy Spirit. Why is it so important that every preacher, every priest, every tele-evangelist exhort us to prepare ourselves for receiving the Holy Spirit? What is going to happen if we do not get an additional anointment of Holy Spirit? Anyway, we have already received the anointment at the time of Baptism and Confirmation. And we get it every time we receive sacraments like Confession and Eucharist.
Then why a renewed call this time? Make no mistake, it is not a new call. It is a call to rekindle what we received earlier. ‘For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands’ ( 2 Tim.1:6). Paul gives this advice to Timothy to prepare him for the higher assignment of preaching the gospel in difficult situations across different terrains. More than anything else, a preacher needs Holy Spirit. Paul knew it.
But we are not preachers. We are not evangelists. But you might reason that we are not preachers or evangelists. The Church’s teaching is that any baptised christian is a missionary. It has been so for the past two millennia. Our forefathers in faith had played their evangelising role well in their times. That is the reason why we are christians today.
If you are ready to believe, we are the apostles of the end times entrusted with the responsibility of taking the eternal gospel to a doubting generation. Unlike Timothy’s contemporaries, there is nothing new in the gospel for our generation. They are used to hearing the name of Jesus Christ umpteen times. They know the commandments. Yet they will not accept the gospel as in the early centuries. Here we need the help of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news to them. We need the special gifts of the Holy Spirit. He will teach us to say the right thing at the right time. This is something very important.
Our times are such that we are being subjected to an untold kind of persecution. ‘They will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you wll be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who would speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you'( Mathew 10:17-20).
This is the reason why Jesus instructed his disciples to be in prayer in Jerusalem, the City of God until they received the Holy Spirit. ‘And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high’ ( Luke 24:49). ‘ You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ ( Acts 1:8).
Two things become clear from the scripture. First, we need the power from heaven to proclaim the good news. Second,we need to pray fervently, with enhanced zeal to get the anointment of the Holy Spirit. This is exacty what the disciples were doing at the Upper Room during those ten days preceeding the first Pentecost. All the disciples were praying with Mary the mother of Jesus and certain other people. Pouring out the Holy spirit on them was the culmination of their prayer. Rest is history. Holy Spirit has been the force behind every person who went out to preach the Word of God. One single line from the Acts will tell us how the Holy Spirit transformed the elect. When Paul and Silas reached Thessalonica, the enemies of gospel accused them saying, “these people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also” ( Acts 17:6).
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our mandate is to turn the world upside down. What the world thinks normal will be abnormal to us. What the world praises will be scoffed by us. For us, the treasures of this world will be chaff to be consumed by fire. When the world detest suffering we welcome it. When the world flows with material pleasure, we intentionally drift away from it. When the lord of this world make their eyes blind, our Lord in heaven opens our eyes to the eternal light.
Holy Spirit is the one who turns this world upside down for us. In that process, He leads us through slippery roads and finally make us stand firm on Jesus Christ, the living stone.
The Gospel of John contains beautiful verses about the works of the Holy Spirit. Let us start with how Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples; ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him’ ( John 14:15-17).
This is the biggest secret about the Spirit; world cannot receive him. But we are fortunate to receive this Spirit of Truth. How blessed are we! And what does the Spirit do when He is with us? ‘….the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you’ (John 14:26). Holy Spirit is the perfect teacher and perfect personal assistant, because He teaches us everything and reminds us of the Lord’s words whenever necessary. ‘When he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement’ (John 16:8). Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of wisdom that will distinguish us from the rest.
Look around and we will see that we are living in a world turned upside down. For the world, sin is virtue, chastity is nonsense, murder is laudable, theft is routine, cheating is normal and lying is the way of life. Like Paul, Silas and other apostles, we are called to turn this world again upside down so that it may regain its balance. The task is not easy. But our consolation lies in the promise of our Lord and Saviour; ‘When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth’ ( John 16:13). When we face the enemy with the fullness of truth on our side, he cannot overpower us. If the Holy Spirit is on our side, who will stand against us?
Remember what our Lord told the woman of Samaria? ‘..the water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing upto eternal life’ ( John 4:14). She couldn’t immediately grasp the depths of what Jesus told her. For those who were still in doubt, Jesus again explains; ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’. Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified’ ( John 7:37-39).
Holy Spirit is the living water quenching the thirst of our soul. As long as we are without Holy Spirit we feel the unquenchable thirst for Him. Psalmist says; ‘My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord’ ( Ps 84:2). Ezekiel saw water flowing from below the threshold of the temple (Ezek:47:1). Spirit led him through the water. Initially it was ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then it was upto waist level, finally becoming a river that was deep enough to swim.
How beautiful are the ways of the Spirit and how blessed are those who are selected to experience the anointment of Holy Spirit! Once stepped in, they cannot go back, nor do they want to go back. Initially we are standing on our feet, but gradually as the water level rises, we get the real feel of what an anointment in Holy Spirit means. Its culmination is when the river becomes big enough to swim. We know, once we are in such a river, it is the water that carries us. We need not do anything. The Spirit will lead us to the right destination. For others who stand afar and watch, it is amazing. It should only be so, because Jesus said; ‘The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit ( John 3:8). Once we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are not in control, but we are being controlled by the Spirit.
Coming to the more pertinent question of what should be done to get the anointment of Holy Spirit, the answer is very simple. We need not do anything. Just listen to what He whispers to us in solitude. Close our eyes so that the inner eyes are opened. Tune your ears to what He says. Detach ourselves from everything mean. Be in the Upper Room of our self with all the apostles and Holy Virgin and ask for their intercession. Certainly Holy Spirit will descend upon us.
As Paul wrote to the Ephesians, we are engaged in a battle not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places ( Ephe. 6:12). We cannot win this battle single-handedly, because the enemy is working overtime and his minions are many. Their true colour is manifested in fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatory, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and things like these which are together called the works of the flesh ( Gala.5:19-21). Do you think it is easy to overcome these evils and instead grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which are the fruits of the Spirit?
Answer can be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For those who battle alone, it is ‘no’. For those who engage the enemy with the help of the Holy Spirit, yes, they can easily defeat the armies of the enemy. We are called to conquer the devil, not to succumb to him.
Be fervent in prayer. Think that this is the last chance to get the anointment of Holy Spirit. Pray with that urgency. We need to get the anointment of Holy Spirit at any cost this time. Never be lethargic to the call of our Mother. Were this the last bus, would you like to miss it? If you knew the time when your master returns, will you not be prepared to receive him? Pray as if this is the last bus and act as if your master is at the door.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten our souls and lead us through the right path when darkness has started to befall the world. Let us sing:
Welcome Holy Spirit / We are in Your presence / Fill us with Your power / Live inside of me………..