Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? I was thinking that, in the current state of things, we need more than a RESolution – we need a SOlution to our problems. And I believe that the solution needed is the Holy Spirit! I have to admit that the whole “resolution/solution” thing seemed “catchier” to me when I first thought of it than it does now after seeing it in print. However, I am absolutely convinced that our resolution/solution for 2021 has to be, “Come Holy Spirit!”
As we begin this New Year of 2021, it’s difficult to think of a better prayer than, “Come Holy Spirit.” I think of Pope Leo XIII on January 1, 1901, dedicating the new year and the new century to the Holy Spirit by solemnly chanting Veni Creator Spiritus – all at the urging of Blessed Elena Guerra. Could we all make a resolution to pray that simple prayer many times a day throughout this year!
WHY THE HOLY SPIRIT IS SENT
In the Scriptures, Jesus is rather specific about exactly why the Holy Spirit is sent to us. He gives basically four general reasons:
1) To make us holy and help us to worship.
2) To give us the power to bear witness to Jesus.
3) To help us know the truth and proclaim the truth.
4) To convict the world.
Let’s look at each of this in turn.
TO MAKE US HOLY AND HELP US TO WORSHIP
In John 7:37-39, Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to rivers of living water, flowing from his Sacred Heart into the heart of the believer. As the Holy Spirit flows freely within us, he makes us holy and brings us ever closer to God.
And in John 4:23-24, Jesus talks about true worshippers, who will worship the Father in spirit and truth. We need the Holy Spirit in order to truly offer the Lord acceptable worship – both personally and communally. We have a desperate need for the Holy Spirit to make us the kind of holy and true worshippers that the Father desires.
TO GIVE US THE POWER TO BEAR WITNESS TO JESUS
At the Last Supper in John 15:26-27, Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth “will bear witness to me.” Jesus then said, “He will glorify me…” (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit desires to glorify Jesus, to exalt Jesus, to constantly turn our attention to Jesus.
Jesus said to His Apostles, “He (the Holy Spirit) will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses” (John 15:27). It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can be witnesses for Jesus.
Jesus also promised his disciples that when they would be called upon to bear witness before hostile rulers, the Holy Spirit would speak through them and teach them what to say (cf. Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:2). To bear witness in the face of suffering and death takes fortitude – a prized gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s worth noting that the Greek word for witness is martyria, from which we derive the word “martyr.” Enough said!
TO HELP US KNOW THE TRUTH AND PROCLAIM THE TRUTH
The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all the truth (16:13). He will not speak on his own authority but will speak whatever he hears and “declare to you the things that are to come” (16:13). The Holy Spirit of truth guides the preaching and teaching of the word of God, as well as the prophetic and revelational charisms.
The word “truth” occurs 25 times in John’s gospel, indicating that it is a major theme of his. We can never separate the Holy Spirit from the truth of the word of God! One of the main roles of the Holy Spirit, as declared by Jesus, is to communicate God’s truth.
TO CONVICT THE WORLD
In a rather lengthy passage in John 16:5-11, Jesus says that he will send the Paraclete to the Apostles, “and when he comes he will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” When I would hear or read this passage in the past, I would picture the Holy Spirit coming upon the sinful world like a bolt of lightning to straighten everything out!
In recent years, however, as I studied the passage more carefully, I have come to see that the convicting of the world actually has to do with the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. Therefore, the Apostles are involved in the Holy Spirit convicting the world. By extension, I would say that any Christian believer who receives the Holy Spirit, would also be used to bring the world under God’s conviction.
A GOOD RESOLUTION
In the early years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Bishop Joseph McKinney taught the importance of saying, “Come Holy Spirit” before doing anything – preaching, counseling, hearing confessions, or even taking a phone call! I remembered that teaching when trying to help one of our children with homework. I would place my hand on his head and have him repeat three times after me, “Come Holy Spirit.” It worked amazingly well! Homework became a lot less contentious. In addition, this student was consistently on the honor roll at school. I figured if the prayer worked for that, it should work for other things as well and I have tried to integrate it into my daily activity for everything I undertake.
So I would say, make the New Year’s resolution to pray “Come Holy Spirit” before whatever you do, certainly before anything important. I think you will find that this resolution might just provide a solution for you. (Sorry…I just couldn’t resist!)