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Baptized with God’s Living Spirit

First Reading: 1 John 5:5-13

Beloved:
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20

R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

NAB

I remember two distinct things about my Confirmation as an 8th grader.

1) The Bishop almost caught himself on fire, and I do mean literally. He was moving his arms so much around the candles at the pulpit for his homily, I thought I was about to see a modern application of “tongues of fire.”

2) I really, really liked the cake my Mom bought for the party after.

Honestly that was it. I didn’t feel different nor did I fully understand the depth of power available in the sacrament Confirmation. It was years later, before I really saw the fruits of my Confirmation active and moving in my life.

The Baptism that Saint John the Baptist preached was one of repentance. He tells Israel a mightier One is coming after him who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit.  To baptize, or drench in the Spirit evokes the biblical promise that in the last times God would “pour out” His Spirit like water (Joel 3:1-2, Zechariah 12:10). This baptism of the Spirit would bring about the transformation of heart. Saint Mark’s first readers, a community of early Christians, undoubtedly understood this prophecy to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.

The phrase “baptism in the Spirit” does not mean a new or different baptism. “Baptism in the Spirit” in this sense is not a sacrament but a coming alive of the graces received in sacramental baptism. Rather, it is a powerful image for our constant need of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

For many years I used to struggle with understanding and having a personal relationship with Holy Spirit. The images of fire, wind, and a dove left me utterly confused.

But now I am firmly convinced in my own life that having a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit is life-changing.

Sisters, we so desperately need more of the Spirit invited into our lives beyond those special Sacrament days. How do we begin to have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit? We ask. We stop ourselves and pray one of the most ancient prayers of the Church, “Come, Holy Spirit.” Ask the Spirit to bring to fulfillment in your life the graces of your Baptism and Confirmation. Ask for the power and boldness of the Spirit to be active in your life. Talk to the Holy Spirit as you would to Our Lord Jesus. Pray for a greater outpouring of the Spirit each day.

God’s Spirit is not far off or distant from our lives, but deeply and passionately involved.

Today take a few moments and pray Veni, Sancte Spiritus, the Sequence prayed for the Mass of Pentecost. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Patty Hubbard is a runner, youth minister ordinaire, and thinks old movies are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learning to find grace in all things. You can find out more about her here.

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