As we begin this brand New Year, we need to take to heart the words of John the Baptist that we find in the Gospel of Luke. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)
“The baptismal water is consecrated – so that those who will be baptized in it may be “born of water and the Spirit.” (CCC 1238)
“The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality – by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 1279)
In other words, the Church is saying that through the waters of Baptism we are all born again of water and the Spirit and we become a temple of the Holy Spirit. We literally become one with Christ and His Spirit abides with us and is ever present within us.
We traditionally associate the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit as a source of inspiration and comfort that we can be assured of in both good times and in bad. But there is another reality of this presence that we tend to forget or even ignore at times.
Psalm 139 reminds us of the fact that our God is ever present and all knowing. “You know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:2) Knowing that the Spirit of God is always with us, it stands to reason that our God will, therefore, know our every word, our every deed, our every thought and our every emotion. Absolutely nothing in our lives is hidden from our all knowing and ever-present God. When we contemplate our past thoughts, deeds and actions, in light of God’s all knowing presence, we may be tempted to feel pangs of anxiety. But the knowledge of God’s presence, and our confidence in His infinite love and mercy, is meant to bring us peace. That is why Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, said, “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.” (4:6-7)
Our purpose in life is to know and to do the will of God in our life, guided by the eternal presence of His most Holy Spirit. We do this when we allow His Spirit to shine through our life by loving one another as God loves us. There is nothing in life more important than the love we have for our Creator God and the love that we have for one another.
May the knowledge of His abiding presence guide your hearts and minds throughout this New Year, and may the Love of God manifest itself in your life.
REVEREND MR. DONALD COX is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 9, 1979, Deacon Don was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, an important American Father of the Second Vatican Council. He is currently assigned to St. Cornelius parish in Dryden, Michigan. Married and the father of three children and grandfather to four children, Deacon Don was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at St. Brigid Elementary School, Mackenzie High School, and Lawrence Technological University. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.