by Ken Rolheiser
How the Holy Spirit lives in us

The birth of Jesus changed everything for us. Before that we existed and had bodies, but when Jesus embraced our physical form and became fully human, our human condition experienced a blessed transformation.

In the incarnation at Bethlehem Mary gave birth in a painful, bloody, smelly and messy way. The child was placed in a feeding trough for animals, while the smells of the stable surrounded all. How did this action bless and sanctify our human condition?

I’m tempted to skip ahead to the conclusion about pain, suffering and death that are sanctified through the experience of Christ’s crucifixion. And then skip ahead to the Resurrection and our rising, but let us unfold the power of the Spirit that enlivens all this.

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Yes, our bodies are not evil and sinful, a thing of revulsion. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and all that implies. First of all, we are physical, temporal and sensual in feelings and desires. This worldly state is not evil. 

We are also spiritual, as distinguished from physical. We have deep perceptions and beliefs, especially as these have been revealed and nurtured through scripture and traditions.

Simply, God the Father created our bodies, God the Son redeemed them, and God the Holy Spirit dwells in them. The moment we accept Jesus as our savior, we become temples of the Holy Spirit.

In Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we see how this marvelous transformation takes place. Mary’s yes to God’s invitation to be the Mother of God brought the Holy Spirit to act on the soul, the heart and the flesh of Mary. He filled them with his grace and all his gifts, and his infinite love.

In a similar way Jesus was filled with the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit is upon me because he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor." (Luke 4:18). 

Amazingly, this same Spirit that later raised Jesus from the tomb dwells in us, the Church, the Body of Christ on earth.

You and I are disciples of Jesus enlivened by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23).

The Spirit comes with power and might: “I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself; he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12).

We can only guess at how we might perform greater works than Jesus did. Take the example of St John Paul II or St Theresa of India, or an evangelist like Billy Graham. With one stroke of the keypad, a message touches billions of Christians in the world.

You and I may not reach billions, but St Teresa of India said: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you. …If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

‘Fan into flame the gift of God.” (2 Timothy 1:6)
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.” (1 Peter 4:10)
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