The power of the Holy Spirit
"The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought. … We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” – Romans 8:26–28
In circumstances of suffering, our human nature and our faith ask angrily: Why? While our reaction to pain is understandable, the real question we should ask ourselves as Christians is: What for?
Our mission as disciples of Jesus is to be channels of his saving grace with our lives; for this, we must be brought to perfection in love. Such perfection can only be achieved with the presence of the Holy Spirit within us — the love of God himself perfecting our heart according to what pleases God. We pray to God according to our human intelligence, but “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
Jesus himself, without needing to be purified of any sin, as a human being and a man of faith, was perfected by the Spirit of God to be a faithful instrument of salvation for all of us. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-9).
The Holy Spirit, the love of God, is the only one who can give meaning to any suffering and transform it into an instrument of salvation, joy and holiness. Only divine love can make the cross a triumph over death, instead of an instrument of destruction and shame. “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies” (Romans 8:11).
While it is true that suffering and pain convulse our bodies and intelligence, God has demonstrated and tested his power, wisdom and love throughout time, always patiently and persistently drawing us to himself. The fullness of his love, wisdom and persevering presence is in having sent us his own Son, born among our own flesh, from the sacred womb of a faithful woman — a woman who overcame her own fears and earthly wisdom before the power of the love of God in his Holy Spirit.
“There is no fear in love … because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The spirit of God’s love that came with the Passover of Jesus will undoubtedly continue to perfect our lives to become his joyful missionaries like Mary. Let us trust in his loving power.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - May 2020
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx