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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Baptism In The Spirit (The Way Forward In Christ Part 215)

Reading: Acts 19:1-8

Paul encountered disciples in Ephesus. They were believers in Jesus, having been baptized. But there was something very important that was lacking. It was the Holy Spirit.

These disciples had been baptized “with the baptism of John” (v.3). John preached repentance. It was a baptism of repentance of sin and of coming into faith in Jesus (v.4). With this, they were cleansed, and in accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord, they became disciples.

But there are two basic elements to being a true disciple: (1) to meet and live Christ, and (2) to share Christ. One repents of sin, and works to bring other sinners to repentance. One receives the grace of God and becomes an instrument of grace for others. One becomes a disciple and goes to make disciples of others.

For this, which is the very work of Jesus, which is the very reason he came into the world and suffered on the cross, we need the Holy Spirit. This is why in the gospel of Luke, before sending them off to be his witnesses, Jesus told them to wait for the infilling of the Holy Spirit which would clothe them with power from on high. To do divine work, one needs divine power.

This is the problem in the Church today. The Ephesian disciples then said, “We have never even heard that there is a holy Spirit.” (v.2). Today, Catholics have heard of the Holy Spirit, but they do not know the Holy Spirit.

When we are baptized, many as infants, we are baptized in the name of the Triune God. But knowledge of that is with our godparents, who represent us. When we are confirmed at the age of discretion (between 7, the age of reason, to 16 years old), most, especially the younger ones, will still not be that aware of sin, faith, and the Christian calling. Though there is instruction and Confirmation is called the sacrament of Christian maturity, most would not be spiritually mature.

This is why there is a need for the so-called baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is for adults. So while the Holy Spirit is conferred in Baptism and again reinforced in Confirmation, many Catholics would not really know the Holy Spirit. And in our Church today that is generally no longer geared toward evangelization and proclaiming Christ, many Catholics would not know the importance, nay, the absolute necessity, of the Holy Spirit in doing the work of evangelization.

And so it is, just as then with the Ephesian disciples as today with charismatic renewal, people are prayed with for the renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Now they think and answer for themselves, not through other representatives. “And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (v.6). The Holy Spirit that is in us by virtue of Baptism and Confirmation, as we renew our commitment to Christ, is able to fill us anew and empowers us for the work of mission. With this infilling of the Spirit comes spiritual gifts, which are necessary to be able to do God’s work in God’s ways.

What is the effect of baptism in the Spirit? We will be filled with zeal for the gospel and empowered to proclaim Christ to the ends of the earth. As with Paul, “he entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly with persuasive arguments about the kingdom of God.” (v.8).

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