Holy Spirit Leads to Truth
by Rev. Jack Peterson, Y. A.
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."
"Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." These words from Our Lord are not fluff. They point to a powerful inner strength that flows from truly believing in Jesus Christ. When you live with the conviction that you are genuinely loved by our ever-living God; when you know in the depth of your soul that God is near at all times, when you trust in his infinite goodness and providential plan for your life; and, when you have experienced him giving you unexplainable strength in previous trials, then you no longer live a life dominated by fear and anxiety. Rather you live in freedom. You discover a wonderful confidence as you go about your daily efforts to accomplish God's will in your life.
The lives of the saints model this inner strength. St. John Bosco is one of those deeply faith-filled human beings who bounded through life with tremendous trust in the Lord. He faced many challenges as he funded two religious orders dedicated to the education and care of young people and developed a new education method. He constantly ran out of money as he built programs dedicated to forming young people as faith-filled citizens. He dealt with church leaders who were skeptical of his intentions and his ability to carry out his mission. He lived during a time of great political turmoil in Italy, which included intense persecution of the church. Through it all, St. John Bosco's trust in God grew and enabled him to carry out the mission God gave him with tremendous confidence.
This genuine faith in the Lord also leads to a great love for the name of Jesus, which we see among the members of the early church. Barnabas and Paul are described in the Acts of the Apostles as men who "have dedicated their lives to the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ." In an earlier passage from Acts, St. Luke recounts that the apostles were questioned, flogged and ordered by certain Jewish leaders to stop preaching about Jesus. The response of the apostles was surprising: "So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin rejoicing that they had been found worth to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name" )Acts 5:41). For those early Christians, gratitude to Jesus for his merciful love, his plan of life laid out in the Gospels, the strength that they experienced in the Holy Spirit, and the privilege of sharing in Jesus' mission of building the kingdom of God led to a profound respect for the name of Jesus.
Thirdly, I would like to note that, as we approach the end of the Easter season, the church places her focus on the essential role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and of each Christian. Allow me to highlight one particular grace - leading the church to all truth. Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit upon the church to guarantee that it proclaim faithfully and preserve effectively the truths of our faith, and apply them authentically to new circumstances that arise in history. To this point, Jesus said to his disciples, "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth."
We observe an outstanding example of the action of the Holy Spirit working through the church's leaders n today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Members of the church were divided over the true path to salvation. Some were falsely arguing that converts to Christianity needed to come to the faith by way of Judaism. That is, they needed to participate in the many and varied Jewish observances, including circumcision. The decision was made to gather in Jerusalem for a council with Peter, the apostles and other religious leaders. They met, discussed and prayed over the contentious issues. In the end, Peter, the chosen leader of the apostles, announced the final decision with these words, "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities ... " Peter was convinced that the Holy Spirit guided the church to God's answer to this controversy. This is an excellent example from sacred Scriptures of the Holy Spirit leading the church into all truth through the church's magisterium, Peter and the apostles. The Holy Spirit makes sure that the church never teaches error regarding the revelation handed on to us through the actions and words of Jesus and his apostles.
Pray this week for deep faith that sets us free from fear and anxiety and fills us with courage and joy.