One of the most famous passages in Scripture is Jesus asking the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”[1]  This leads to St. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, and to the establishment of the papacy. Like St. Peter, it matters very much who we say that Jesus is. After all, as Jesus told us, this is eternal life, to know God the Father, and the one who He sent.[2] If we want to be with Jesus in heaven, we need to know Him and God the Father!

What about the Holy Spirit, though? What about the third person of the Holy Trinity? Sometimes, it can seem that the Holy Spirit is left out or forgotten. He’s a bit more mysterious than God the Father or Jesus, so He can be harder to understand.

There are many wonderful sources out there that can teach us who the Holy Spirit is, including the Catechism of the Catholic Church, New Advent, and Catholic Answers, so I will not attempt to do so. Instead, as we approach Pentecost, I want to focus on what the Holy Spirit is asking us to do. That’s something that will be deeply personal to each of us, but it’s also something we can come to a greater understanding of by looking at Scripture and the lives of the saints.

Let’s consider the first Pentecost, and remember how the disciples acted before that day.

First, when Jesus was undergoing his passion, almost all the disciples abandoned Him. Then, after His death, they hid from the authorities. Even after His resurrection, they weren’t engaged in public ministry. It wasn’t until Pentecost, when they fully received the Holy Spirit, that the disciples began to preach and produce fruit in the world.

After Pentecost, instead of being afraid, they were bold. They proclaimed Jesus to all who would listen[3] and had no fear in front of the Sanhedrin.[4] They performed mighty healings through the power of God[5] and had no care for the repercussions. They were willing to die rather than to deny Jesus. 

How do we compare to the first disciples?

We have received the same Holy Spirit through our baptism and confirmation—but do we live with the same zeal? We should have the same faith, boldness and resolve that they did. We should have the same love they did.

The first disciples faced a non-Christian world and many crosses, but that did not stop them. We face a post-Christian world, but we cannot let that stop us, despite whatever crosses and sufferings we have to bear.  Some of us will be given very heavy crosses that will seem unbearable.

We do not face that world alone, though. We have the Holy Spirit. And who do we say that the Holy Spirit is?  He is God, He is the Advocate, He is the Spirit of Truth. Being alive in the Holy Spirit and following His lead is absolutely central to our life as Christians and to doing God’s work in the world. This Pentecost, let us all call on the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and fill us with grace.

[1] Matthew 16:13-20.

[2] John 17:3.

[3] Acts 2: 14-41.

[4] Acts 4: 1-22.

[5] Acts 3.