THE MORE WE LIVE IN COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE MORE THE HEAVENS WILL BE OPENED TO US
(A biblical refection on the THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year C] – 13 December 2015)
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18
First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Psalms: Isaiah 12:2-6; Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
The Scripture Text
And the multitudes asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” and he said to them, “Collect no more than is appointed you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” and he said to them, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people. (Luke 3:10-18 RSV)
When John the Baptist began preaching in preparation for the promised Messiah, he caused quite a stir. People began crowding around him, asking him for more advice and accepting his baptism of repentance. John the Baptist caused such a sensation that many even began to wonder whether he himself was the Messiah.
But John the Baptist remained clear about his mission. He was only sent to baptize with water, not with the Holy Spirit. His was a preliminary baptism in preparation for the full baptism that Jesus would give.
John the Baptist’s words today cast an important light on Jesus’ mission, one that is at the heart of Christmas, but which can get overlooked from time to time. He understood that Jesus had come not only to do away with sin, but also to baptize His people with the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Messiah was not simply to remove sin from our hearts, but to fill us with the life and power of God.
According to John the Baptist, Jesus came to separate the “wheat” from the “chaff” in our lives so that there would be room in our hearts for the Holy Spirit. As Christmas approaches, now is a good time to take stock of our own relationship with the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask to ourselves whether we have experienced the Holy Spirit revealing to us areas of sin (“chaff”) that block the flow of God’s love in our hearts? Do we know and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in leading us to repentance and freedom? Do we know and experience inner peace, even in trying situations? Are the truths of Christ coming to life for us as we pray? All of these are signs of the Spirit’s work, and they are all promised to anyone who embraces Jesus in their hearts.
The more we live in communion with the Holy Spirit, the more the heavens will be opened to us. The Holy Spirit is our way to the very heart of God. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ coming at Christmas, and as we prepare for His return in glory, let’s welcome the Holy Spirit more deeply into our hearts.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank You for revealing Christ to me. In You I can find God’s eternal love, in You I can turn away from sin, and in You I can draw deeply from God’s life. Come, Holy Spirit, and continue Your work in me. Amen.
Jakarta, 11 December 2015
A Christian Pilgrim