Faith on the QuadMission in the Spirit

In my last column, I examined the identity and role of the Holy Spirit.  In this article, I will continue to look at this past World Youth Day in Australia in order to see more clearly what it means to live in the Spirit.

While it is important to have an understanding of the Holy Spirit, our relationship with him must be more than simply intellectual.  In his World Youth Day message, Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “[I]t is not enough to know the Spirit; we must welcome Him as the guide of our souls, as the “Teacher of the interior life” who introduces us to the Mystery of the Trinity, because He alone can open us up to faith and allow us to live it each day to the full.”

In his vigil talk, the Pope pointed out that after His Resurrection, Christ left his followers not only with a promise of the Holy Spirit, but also with a challenge – to be his witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8).  In fact, these were the very last words Jesus spoke to His apostles before ascending into heaven. This challenge applies not only to the original apostles, but to us as well.  The Holy Spirit helps us respond to this challenge in our lives.
 
We are able to live out our calling to be witnesses by allowing the gifts of the Spirit to shape us in every aspect of our daily lives: in our school, work, and leisure activities, enriched through prayer and the sacraments, which make us receptive to the promptings of the Spirit, so that we are able to reach out in love to those around us.  We have been given the Holy Spirit through our baptism and confirmation, and we are now called to live as Christ’s witnesses in our fragile world, weakened by sin and lies, in which many have adopted false beliefs and ideologies.  Countless people live empty and broken lives, longing to know the Gospel message that will reveal their dignity and calling as children of God.  We are called to be Christ’s witnesses in the world, each using his own gifts and talents to proclaim the Gospel to those around him.  We cannot do it on our own, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can renew the face of the earth! 

Pope Benedict acknowledges the difficulty that adults often find in trying to reach out to the youth in an understandable and persuasive way, and he points to this as a sign that the young people themselves are being called to take up this mission: “You know the ideals, the language, and also the wounds, the expectations, and at the same time the desire for goodness felt by your contemporaries. This opens up the vast world of young people’s emotions, work, education, expectations, and suffering.”  Because we are young, we can relate to other young people more easily than older adults can.  As a result, we have a responsibility to reach out and bring Christ to those around us.  Spreading the Gospel is not a task for later; after we have finished college, established a career, and started a family.  It is a task for now.  We are called to reach out to the young people who constantly surround us and show them the love of Christ. 

The Pope challenges us, “Each one of you must have the courage to promise the Holy Spirit that you will bring one young person to Jesus Christ in the way you consider best, knowing how to “give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but [to] do it with gentleness and reverence” (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).”  What if we took this challenge seriously?  What would our colleges look like if each Catholic student did his or her best to bring just one young person to Christ?  And what if we went even further, evangelizing not to just one person, but to every person we encountered, through our words and actions, by sincerely living our Catholic faith, allowing our lives to be led by the Spirit, transforming us into the witnesses we are called to be?  How different would our college campuses be then?

At the closing Mass at World Youth Day, the Pope challenged the youth of the world, “What will you leave to the next generation?...How are you using the gifts you have been given, the “power” which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you?...What difference will you make?”  Let’s take this challenge seriously and set an example for the rest of the world.  Let’s take the Pope’s words to heart, knowing that “to be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God’s love.”  If we accept the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to transform our families, communities, and nations.  We will truly be able to transform the world!

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