On this Pentecost Sunday the focus is on the concept of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
This concept sometimes makes some uneasy, and they have difﬁculty talking on this topic because of images of “speaking in tongues” and other so-called manifestations of the Spirit.
In staying away from this topic, we miss a vital and important aspect of the work of the Church.
That is what this Scripture is about, as Jesus talks with his disciples prior to his departure and declares that his Spirit will continue on with them—and us—to continue his work.
What is this work of Christ? First, it’s the work of reconciliation. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”
What we proclaim is reconciliation: reconciliation with God, for without reconciliation with God there is no other reconciliation possible; reconciliation with our own true self, created in God’s image; and reconciliation with our brothers and sisters, in the Gospel we hear, “If you love me, keep my commandments; and I will ask the Father and He will give you another helper.”
In other words, there is only one test of love, and that test is obedience. But obedience is not easy, just as loving is not always easy.
But Jesus is saying, “I will not leave you in your struggle alone.” This is where he says I will send you a comforter, but in some translation is “Helper.” Obedience is not easy; we are not left alone.
Often we hear and know of people talking about not being able to cope or about having difﬁculty coping with one thing or another. This is what Jesus is giving us when he speaks of this gift of the Spirit or the anointing of the Spirit—we will be able to cope with the difﬁculties and challenges of life.
Jesus saying in this way: “I am setting you a hard task, and I am sending you out on an engagement very difﬁcult. But I am going to send you someone, the Helper, who will guide you in what to do and who will make you able to do it.
The Holy Spirit will bring you truth and you are able to cope with the battle for the truth.”
This anointing of the Spirit is also to be anointed with the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth given to the Church is the living presence, wisdom, power, and love that Christ brought to the world.
When we have received the “anointing” of the Spirit, our minds are opened.
Sometimes we wonder why some minds seemed closed and unwilling to see and hear truth.
Could it be that we have not been open in prayer to receive the promises that Christ made to us and to receive the Spirit?
How often have we prayed to be ﬁlled with the Spirit and included in that prayer the need to know the truth?
As we read through the New Testament we begin to see, little by little, how the followers were beginning to see and apply the truths of Christ.
That is the Spirit at work. The anointing of the Spirit helps us to “open our eyes,” This is a prayer for the Spirit to be with us during our daily living, to be able to apply the lessons and spirit of Christ to our daily lives, to help us overcome sin and grow as Christians.
So when we are anointed by the Spirit, our minds are enlightened, and we are given strength for service. Conclusion: obedience and service are not easy.
Loving is not always easy; reconciliation is often difﬁcult.
But as it often is in daily life, knowing that we are not alone as we go through challenges of daily Christian living, the Spirit of the Living Christ is with us.
We must not just think that the gift of the Spirit is just for special occasions or special times of worship.
The Spirit that Christ is speaking about is with us at all times to offer guidance, strength, hope.
In the ﬁeld of mental health we often talk about a healthy person as one who is able to be intimate, that is, one who can open up to another person and get close.
Or we might say the person has awareness—is aware of his or her own strengths and weaknesses and impact on others, whether negative or positive.
Or we might say a healthy person is one who has spontaneity, meaning the person is not stuck in a rut but is open to seeing things differently and responding differently.
I believe this is close to what Jesus is calling us to when he says the Holy Spirit will be with you.
He is saying that we are willing to be intimate with his Spirit and open ourselves to him, that we seek to become more aware of our strengths and needs so that we can respond better to the leading of God’s Spirit, and, ﬁnally, that we are called to be more spontaneous in our living, meaning we are not stuck in only one way of experiencing life, or God, or ourselves and others.
Jesus is saying his Spirit is with us.
It is part of his promise to us.
But we must be aware of our strengths and needs; we must desire to be closer in our walk, and we must be willing to step “outside the box” in spontaneity to follow his Spirit. We have stepped out of our comfort zone of going to church but God’s spirit is still with us as we worship from home.