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IN THE HOLY SPIRIT WE OVERCOME THE WORLD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 7th Week of Easter, May 21, 2012
Acts 19:1-8, Ps. 67, John 16:29-33


"And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6).


The Holy Spirit gives power and life to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The apostles were transformed at Pentecost when they received the Holy Spirit, and they began to preach Christ fearlessly and with great power and effect. When St. Paul laid his hands on these twelve men in Ephesus, they too were transformed as they received the Holy Spirit. They "spoke with tongues and prophesied" (Acts 19:6), just as the apostles did at Pentecost. The same thing happened to the Gentiles in Cornelius's house when St. Peter preached to them the word of life. They too spoke in tongues, extolling God (Acts 10:46). Later St. Peter explained what had happened, saying, "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15). In St. Peter's first sermon he said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).


A Christian should live in the power of the Holy Spirit because of his faith in Jesus Christ, for Christ gives us from the Father the gift of the Holy Spirit. If we believe in Christ and do his will, Christ will dwell within us (John 14:23), filling us with his happiness. This happiness is the work of the Holy Spirit flowing within us like rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). It is like a spring of living water within us, giving us eternal life (John 4:14). This living water flowing within us fills our spirit with joy, for it is the Spirit of God in us. By the Holy Spirit working in us we experience the presence of God in our heart. It is as when the Holy Spirit filled St. Stephen with power and glory just before he was martyred for bearing witness to Christ. "But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). Indeed, "if you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Pet. 4:14).


All of this pertains to the saving work of Jesus Christ. He saved us on the cross, giving his life for us to justify us through our faith in him. He removed from us our debt of sin that depresses us by paying it himself in his death, taking upon himself our sins (2 Cor. 5:21) and suffering their punishment for us to make us righteous and holy, resplendent in his sight. He then sent to us the Holy Spirit from the Father to rejoice our hearts with the true happiness of God, like living water flowing through us making us glad.


With this gift of the Holy Spirit we are never alone, and we overcome the world. Although we have opposition in the world, Christ overcomes the world and makes us victors over the world in him through our faith. "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith" (1 John 5:5). If we believe in Christ and do his will, we will overcome the world in him. "Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:4). Our victory is in Christ through our faith, for through him we have the Holy Spirit giving us the power and happiness of God.

 

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