• Father Michael J. Truong Luan Nguyen C.Ss. R.

WHERE IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?



“I am going to awaken him” (John 11:11).


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:


Are you ill? Are are unemployed? Are you in pain? Are you depressed? Is your life filled with worries? These, of course, are rhetorical questions. Anyone of us can answer “yes” to anyone of them. Illness, unemployment, pain, worries and depression do happen and they happen in our life time. As the French cliché says: “C’est la vie!” But the real question is: “What can we do about them?” In some instances we can do something; but in others we feel powerless. For example, suffering, illness, old age and death are inevitable. These we cannot avoid. We can either bicker or grumble or complain or beat down ourselves; or we could simply acknowledge: “Such is life!” and decide to change our attitude toward it.


Jesus was born to die. His death was inevitable. He knew it and foretold about it to His disciples many times. He not only made them aware of the inevitability of His death, but also prepared them to confront those of their own.


In this Fifth Sunday in Lent, we hear the same theme of death repeated in all three readings. Ezekiel in the first reading speaks about God opening the grave and putting His spirit in us to raise us from the dead (Ez. 37:12-13). In the second reading, Paul tells the Catholics in Rome that you cannot please God by living in the flesh. Indulging in the sin of the flesh will lead to death. Only when we allow the Spirit of Jesus to dwell in us, will we then possess the true life. In the Gospel we hear our Lord making the decision to return to Judea and confront His own death. The reaction of the disciples was, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” (John 11:8). It was unacceptable for them. Thomas Didymus was the one who understood and accepted Jesus’ mission and decided to go die with Him (v.16).


Even though we all know the fact that death is inevitable and each of us must face it sooner or later, we tend to run away from it. Seldom do we hear ourselves meditating on our own death in order to learn how to lead a good life and be a good human person until it catches us. Confronting cancer or the death of a family member is a wake-up call for all of us. Martha and Mary had to confront this hard truth when their brother, Lazarus, died.


Although they were broken-hearted, their response was different from other people. They put their faith in the Lord. For others death means hopelessness; it means the end. That is a normal reaction. And this is why those without faith would operate with the delusional mindset that we need to do everything to prevent death or to extend our fleeting life on this earth. We create technologies and invent machines and medicines to do this. Still in the end, death is unavoidable.


The reactions of the people in the Gospel were all the same. First, you hear Martha saying, “If you were here, my brother would not have died(v. 21). Then Mary also says the same thing (v. 32); and the Jews as well: “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind have done something so that this man would not have died? (v. 37) (emphasis mine). We all want to prevent death and extend our momentary life on this earth. It never crossed the mind of the Jews that there is another option. And that option is Jesus.


Our Lord was going toward Jerusalem to confront His own death. On the way to His destiny, He stops by His friends’ home and shows the people by a demonstration of power that death is not the end. Faith in Jesus will bring down the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Once His Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us, though dead, we will be raised to life. The only thing we can do is to place our trust in Jesus.


Where is the Holy Spirit? Where does the Divine Spirit dwell? The answer is simple: in those who place their trust in Jesus and stake their life on the Word of God.


In closing, I would like to leave you a quote and a question. Firstly, the quote: “Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man's power ends” (George Muller). And second, the question: Where does the Holy Spirit dwell in your life?


Take deep breath and say: “I BELONG TO GOD.”

God bless y’all.

Pax Christi

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