Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts1:8)
The ministers in the Church are appointed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit (Acts.20:28, 6:3). The main celebrant in ordination ceremony is the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit received through the laying on of hands (1 Tim 4:14, 2 Tim 1:6, Acts. 8:15, 17) guides and strengthens the ministers (Acts.8:28, 10, and 20).
3. Leads to Unity.
Despite the advancement in education and science, communal violence, conflicts and divisions in society and Churches and disintegration of family are on the rise. Fellowship Communities which share and care each other are an inevitable antidote to this. Two major threats to unity and fellowship are egoism or false pride and hatred. Holy Spirit helps to eliminate these blocks from the inner being and make humans flutes, through which the divine wind passes to generate melodious music to restore harmony and unity in the entire creation. Inner cleansing guided by the Spirit is important for true fellowship.
Church has been called to be an image of the fellowship of the Holy Trinity and a model for human communities. When the Church was formed on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit filled speech of St. Peter was heard by the Diaspora Jews from different parts of the world in their own languages .Perfect unity blossoms in the nursery of smooth communication and understanding beyond all barriers. Division and disintegration of the tower of Babel was replaced by the unity and fellowship of the tower of Church on Pentecost day. When they were filled with the Holy Spirit, ‘they were of one heart and one mind’ (Acts 4:31, 32). The principle of unity in the Church is neither the Catholicos nor the Patriarch, nor the Pope or anybody else but is the Holy Spirit. As blood is circulating all through the body, the Holy Spirit strives to empower all members of the Church and keep them in fellowship.
The Church is not only a sign but also an instrument of unity. So the Spirit reminds the Church to serve the world as a peacemaker and an ecumenist in the midst of the escalation of violence and divisions. God is not a God of conflict and disorder but of peace and harmony (ICor 14:33)
4. Makes deep communion with God possible
During the baptism in Jordan Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as a dove. In those days dove was an object of sacrifice meant for reconciliation between humans and God .So we understand from this symbolism that Holy Spirit helps to have deep communion with God .The Spirit helps those who fail to progress in the proper ways of prayer (Rom8: 26, 8:15). The Spirit calls us to use each and every sentence in our prayers and worship as fingers to touch God. From there He leads the soul to touch God without the aid of words. Continuous and meaningful communion with God causes deification or theosis. We are in need of the help of the Holy Spirit to bridge the gap between mind and mouth in personal prayers, family prayer and also in public worship.
5. Gives fruitfulness.
Divinization means to be partakers of Divine nature or to receive the Characteristics of God. To become like Christ is the same process. Christification of persons and community is a major work of the Spirit (2Cor. 3:17, 18). As a first step, the Spirit uproots the deep-rooted vices and destroys them along with the evil passions. And the seeds of virtues in man are nurtured and the person concerned produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, meekness etc. (Gal 5:22). Whenever St. Paul exhorts to walk by the Spirit he means to co-operate with the Spirit to manifest this life of divinization.
The greatest expression of being filled with the Holy Spirit is abundant love and not the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts of Spirit like power of healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues etc are bestowed upon only certain members of the church to be used for the edification of the whole Church for a certain period of time, whereas the fruits of the Spirit are meant for all the members. St. Paul discourages speaking in tongues (1 Cor.14) and teaches that it will be terminated, whereas love never ends (1Cor.13:8).
Reception of the Holy Spirit
Holy Baptism, the personal Pentecost of every Christian, is above all a sacrament of Holy Spirit. In baptism the Holy Spirit is given as a gift to reside in the faithful forever.
It is unjust to separate the baptismal acts and confine the idea of the reception of the Holy Spirit to a particular act alone. In fact baptism as a whole confers Holy Spirit upon the baptismal candidate. However we can highlight certain important baptismal acts in Syrian tradition by which the candidate receives Holy Spirit. They are:
(a) Breathing: The celebrant breathes 3 times upon the candidate (child) and also on the surface of the water in the baptistery. The Child receives the Holy Spirit as the disciples received Him when Jesus Christ breathed upon them. (Jn.20:22)
(b) Laying on of hands: The celebrant lays his right hand on the head of the candidate during the time of baptism proper in the baptistery. This act reminds us of Christ’s baptism in river Jordan where He received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by St. John the Baptist. It is noticeable that in many other ancient rites like East Syrian and Maronite there is an invocation to the Holy Spirit by the chief celebrant laying his right hand on the head of the candidate in the baptistery.
(C) Baptism proper: ‘Baptism proper’ refers to that part of the sacrament which takes place in the baptistery especially the cleansing by the blessed water. Invocation to the Holy Spirit is repeated in many prayers during this time. It is noteworthy that after the epiclesis or the prayer for sending the Holy Spirit, Holy Myron is poured into the water. Thus a proper ground is prepared for a rebirth in water and Spirit (Jn. 3:5-8).
(d) Anointing: The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of gladness (Ps.45:7) confers the gift of sonship whereas the post baptismal anointing with the mooron imparts the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, anointing was the symbol of the reception of the Spirit (1Sam.16:13, 61:1). And 1Jn.2:20-27 refers to the Holy Spirit received through the anointing. The Hebrew term Messiah (Greek- Christ) means the anointed one and the anointing is with the Holy Spirit (Act.10:38). Hence all men and women are expected to become ‘Christs’ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even if we have received the Holy Spirit in baptism, we need to grow in the Spirit and to be filled with Him. St. Paul exhorts us to be filled not in alcoholic spirit but in the Holy Spirit (Eph.5:18). All spiritual exercises like fasting, repentance, Holy Qurbana, prayer etc. are meant to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit. The celebration of Pentecost and the preceding 10 days of awaiting (for being filled with the already received Holy Spirit) are to be observed in all families and parishes meaningfully with vigils, prayers retreats and teachings. God will grant us an abundant life in the Holy Spirit when there is a sincere attempt to walk according to the guidance of the Spirit. (Gal.16) and ardent desire for more Spirit (Lk.11:13)
In our consumerist culture unfortunately majority are driven by greed than by need. It is natural that they are not much interested in a life guided by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately many even do not know that the Holy Spirit is indispensable as water and air. On the other hand many of the so called extreme spiritual people think of the Holy Spirit only in terms of an electric experience. In fact the Holy Spirit divinizes the world mainly through restoring our true human nature in Christ or making us Christ like. So the Spirit filled life is manifested through our joy in worship, disciplined life, fellowship and our earnestness in translating love into concrete actions in our society through sacrifices.