The Holy Spirit takes care of God’s house, our body. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells within you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). When we open heart to the mercy of God, the Holy Spirit comes into us transforming us forever. It is the Holy Spirit, in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation that construct a tabernacle in our temple so that our bodies become a permanent holy and sacred place. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is the Holy Spirit, who repeatedly wipes away the black soot that we carry into our temple from a sinful world. It is the Holy Spirit who prepares our temple for the entry of the King at the reception of the Holy Eucharist. It is the Holy Spirit, in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, that combines two temples so that they may be one, remaining unbreakable from the bond of everlasting love. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, it is the Holy Spirit that re-configures the temple of a man to become a shelter, giving solace for all who suffer the evils of the world. It is the Holy Spirit who shores up our temple walls, through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, giving spiritual and physical strength to our bodies and souls during the disasters of illness, and imminent death.
The Holy Spirit is like the dedicated older woman who cleans the church week after week. She enters without fanfare, giving glory to the Father by her work. She asks for no recognition for her service in God’s house. She remains in the background providing for shiny floors, gleaming pews, and a pristine sanctuary. With loving and inexhaustible energy, she washes and irons the linens used on the altar. She is dependable and unassuming in her responsibilities. She knows what is needed and acts without question. There is no inch of the interior of the church that has not felt her dedicated, reverential hands for this is God’s house. No one really notices her work; it just happens.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is like that cleaning lady, assuring that our temple dazzles and sparkles, and is well-tended. It is the Spirit who brings out the light of Christ to clean away the threats of discouragement and doubt that grow like mold in the corners of our lives. Like her, the Holy Spirit works the background providing for our needs without recompense directing all glory and praise to the Father and the Son.
Although we have not seen the Holy Spirit, we continually experience and benefit from his work. The Holy Spirit continues to act on our behalf so that our temple can receive the Lord with the dignity he deserves as we call upon him to bless us and makes us his holy people. We need to our open doors to the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe, that the Holy Spirit offers us to assure that our temple remains the holy and sacred shrine for God‘s work.
The Scripture readings, from this weekend, emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit in fortifying the Apostles with his gifts to gather, sanctify, and minister to the Church and the world. Jesus infused the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles with his breath on the day of his Resurrection saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” They received the breath of God at Pentecost that blew through closed doors imparting upon them tongues of fire upon each. While often portrayed as flames appearing above each of the Apostles, the “tongues of fire” also indicates the Holy Spirit ignited their very speech giving them the power to reach into the hearts of the people throughout the world. As the Apostles burst out of the doors of the room and raced into the streets of Jerusalem, it was the Spirit that enabled them to speak to the Jews from various counties and regions to hear the message of Jesus in their language.
Upon receiving the gifts from the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were transformed. They were no longer fishermen and tax collectors that were unsure, fearful of what they must do. The Apostles became the messengers of Jesus, confidently speaking of the ways of Jesus, carrying with pride the physical bruising and wounds inflicted from those who were threatened by the love that Jesus offers.
The same Holy Spirit daily enriches us with those same gifts to perform holy work on behalf of those who need to hear and experience the love of Jesus. We, too, are given the fortitude to endure any physical torment from those who may attempt to separate us from Jesus. We, too, provide understanding and counsel to those who are lost and need the Good Shepherd to lead them back to greener pastures. We, too, are the faithful people of God giving glory, praise, and thanksgiving for the wonders he creates in our lives. We, too, are provided with the wisdom to discern between good and evil and to courageously follow the path to salvation, knowing that Jesus is the source of all that is good.
The Holy Spirit does all of this for us, and we rarely recognize the grace he provides. He is like that cleaning woman who gives and gives transforming our bodies to be worthy temples of the God of us all. Let us rejoice for God has sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us for all times to sanctify our temple.
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:26-27).
Deacon Dan Gilbert