“The kiss of God is the gift of the Spirit.” ~ Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
In today’s 1st Reading (Acts 3:11-26), a continuation of yesterday’s story wherein Peter heals the crippled man in the portico known as Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3:1-10), we look in as he addresses the astonished crowd, leaving them with these words to ponder: “You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?”
Saint Peter assumes a very prominent role in the 3rd and 4th Chapters of Acts, which we will read from in the days and weeks ahead, and it’s very interesting to see the change that takes place in him. He is suddenly a man filled with wisdom, understanding, fortitude and humility, traits that he did not always possess. Fortitude was his from the beginning, perhaps serving as the salient trait that led Jesus to choose him to be one of the Twelve. We know from the many documented instances from Scripture that the Rock of our Church was always quick to display his “first man into the fire” mentality. Yet even this virtue was at times lacking, as made manifest by way of his thrice denial of Jesus. But as we’ll see in the days ahead, as soon as tomorrow as a matter of fact (Acts 4:1-12), fortitude shall be his in spades.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, we read excerpts from Peter’s Pentecost’s Sermon (Acts 2:14, 22-23 & Acts 2:36-41). It is here, fresh on the heels of the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit upon him and the other Apostles, that Peter shows signs of his renewal. Once again he displays a keener sense of clarity and self-awareness, restrained confidence coupled with a sense of urgency, delivering in these words what for all intents and purposes is the very essence of the Christian message https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Holding-On-Versus-Going-Forth.
These precious gifts of the Holy Spirit ~ Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord ~ can be ours too if we pursue them with great ardor, selflessness and humility. Far too often we choose not to seek out or use these gifts. The Holy Spirit is not merely some archaic or nebulous principle. This fallacy rivals that of reducing Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead to a literary apparatus or a “symbol” that His evangelical mission must continue.
The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles at Pentecost and upon us on a regular basis in order to empower, embolden, enlighten and instruct us so that we can vibrantly live out our faith in a world that discourages it. The tireless onslaught of secularism is a powerful and alluring force, of that there is no doubt. Still though, it is no match for the Holy Spirit, its puny and fleeting rewards falling comically short in comparison to the indescribable and eternal joy they awaits those who live in the Spirit. To quote Saint Thalassios the Libyan, “According to the degree to which the intellect is stripped of the passions, the Holy Spirit initiates the intellect into the mysteries of the age to be.”
In the days and weeks ahead leading up to Pentecost, I urge you to reflect upon the Holy Spirit and the role it plays in your life. Pray for the Gifts of the Spirit, for yourself, your loved ones, your friends and your enemies. For as Saint Peter Damian once said, “As the soul is the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is the life of our souls.”