Life in the Spirit
Homily 3rd Sunday Year C: Life in the Spirit
Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.
In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, we read about how Jesus, not long after He began His public ministry, “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. . . . He came to Nazareth, where He had grown up,” entered the synagogue on the sabbath day, and read the famous passage from the Prophet Isaiah about the Messiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind.”
Then Jesus tells people, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Recall a couple of weeks ago we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River, at which time the Holy Spirit visibly appeared in the form of a dove, to reveal that Jesus, as the Son of God who became man, had the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
By his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus redeemed us from our sins and enabled us to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We receive the Holy Spirit into our souls at baptism, when we become members of the Church, which is Christ’s mystical Body.
This is what St. Paul speaks about today in our second reading, from first Corinthians: “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, . . . And we were all given to drink of the one Spirit.”
At baptism the Holy Spirit dwells in us; we truly become temples of the Holy Spirit – the same Holy Spirit that dwelled in the Person of Jesus.
What does this mean for us? It means precisely this: that we must ponder, reflect on this marvelous truth every single day of our lives, AND that we must strive to live lives in the Spirit!
How do we live lives in the Spirit? Here we can turn to great spiritual writers for advice and direction.
One of those writers is Ven. Luis María Martínez, former Archbishop of Mexico City.
He was born 1881. In 1937 Pope Pius XI appointed him Archbishop of Mexico City.
Archbishop Martinez was a scholar and poet, and wrote of a number of books on the spiritual life.
His spiritual writings bear the influence of a woman to whom he gave spiritual direction, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, known as “Conchita” – a mystic and spiritual writer herself who received interior communications from Jesus which she wrote down – in 66 volumes.
At the direction of Jesus, Conchita also wrote a magnificent work called To My Priests, in which Jesus speaks to His priests using Conchita as His mouthpiece, as it were. I’m reading it right now.
Conchita was proclaimed a Blessed on May 4, 2019.
Archbishop Martinez died on 9 February 1956 in Mexico City. Over 100,000 mourners filed past his casket prior to the funeral Mass.
His cause for canonization continues.
Probably his best known book is True Devotion to the Holy Spirit – a book I’ve read a couple of times. If you want to learn devotion to the Holy Spirit, there is no better book than this.
In this masterpiece the Archbishop tells us how to live our lives in the Spirit. What does he say?
The Holy Spirit will lead to you Jesus, to imitate Him more perfectly, in order that, like Jesus, we may always do the will of the Father:
In the Our Father prayer we say, “Thy will be done”;
And Jesus, in the Garden, said: “Father, not my will, but yours be done”
Living in the Spirit also means that, like Jesus, everything we do should be done to give glory to the God the Father. This was Jesus’ motive for carrying out the Father’s will: all that He did was to glorify His Father, and this was done out of His love for the Father.
Here is what Archbishop Martinez says:
“The Holy Spirit, being the [Person of] love of the Father and of the Son, pours into the soul love for the Father similar to that of the Son, and a love for the Son similar to that of the Father. . . . For the soul [filled with the Holy Spirit] loves the Father as it loves the Son, and it loves the Son as it loves the Father.”
Jesus, the Eternal Word, is the perfect image of God the Father, who eternally begets the Word; therefore Jesus as the Word made flesh is our perfect model, our ideal.
And the Holy Spirit dwells in us in order to conform us more and more into Jesus, to transform us more and more into the likeness of Christ; and He does this through the BV Mary: The Holy Spirit used her to form the humanity of Jesus, and He still uses her to form Christ in us.
As Archbishop Martinez says, “all the sanctifying action of the Spirit is centered upon reproducing Jesus, the ideal of the Father, into the soul, transforming it into Jesus.”
Living life in the Spirit, says the Archbishop, means allowing Holy Spirit to work in us, to permit ourselves to be chiseled and polished by the Holy Spirit, and by stripping from ourselves of everything that is an obstacle to this divine transformation –
i.e., stripping ourselves of self love, a disordered love of self, in order that we might be willing to follow Jesus more perfectly, which means taking up our daily crosses in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Archbishop Martinez explained this in a retreat he gave to Bl. Conchita:
“…the transformed soul… fused with the Heart of Jesus, sings with Him the song of suffering and death to the glory of God on earth.” [p. 79]
The soul transformed by the Holy Spirit undergoes a mystical incarnation:
“Becoming Jesus, the soul loves the Father, reflecting Jesus’ love [for the Father] and seeking [God the Father’s] glory as Jesus sought it so that the love, suffering, actions and life of the soul aim at one point, just as all the activities of Jesus’ soul converged and focused on the glory of the Father, the center and crowning of Jesus’ life.” (p. 74)
My friends, this is the way of the Saints. They conformed their lives to Christ by living lives in the Spirit. We must do likewise.
We must strive every day, and throughout the day, to be conscious of the fact that we, by reason of our baptism, are living temples of the Holy Spirit.
We must cultivate a deep devotion and enter into a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. This requires that we pray daily to the Holy Spirit.
There are a number of good prayers to the Holy Spirit. Here is one that I pray daily:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.