The Book of Acts contains one of my favorite Scripture verses. Just before He ascends to heaven, Jesus promises the disciples He will not leave them alone. “But you will receive the power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It is the power of the promised Holy Spirit to which we turn in faith to expect and experience miracles.
The Greek word for power in Acts 1:8 is “dunamis,” the root form of our English word “dynamite.” The power of the Holy Spirit is explosive!
When we call upon the Holy Spirit, our lives as Christians explode with strength and dynamic power to conquer evil with the love of Christ, as Paul so clearly tells the people of Corinth. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20)
Power against Fear
So many people are afraid—afraid of what might happen to them or their families, scared of illness, fearful in an often-violent world where God’s love seems lost to so many. But fear stands for: “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
The devil is a liar and wants us to doubt our future destiny and present circumstances. Yet we need not fear anything! The dynamic power of the Holy Spirit is with us always, greater than any force we can imagine.
“You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Paul echoes this assurance in his letter to the Christians in Philippi. “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13)
In traveling to many places in the United States and the world, I have met so many people who believe they are alone and that God will not meet their needs. Nothing could be further from the truth! We see this clearly, again, in Philippians. “My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4: 19)
The Holy Spirit’s Powerful Gifts
Faith in the power of the Holy Spirit leads us to receive His many gifts and fruits. We receive His wisdom to make the right decisions, His courage to endure trials and hardships, the knowledge that we are not alone.
The New Testament mentions 27 gifts of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12 lists nine classical charismatic gifts: wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues. We are commissioned to use these gifts of the Holy Spirit in the work of the Church.
The Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, speaks of the charismatic gifts in paragraph 12.
“…Whether they are the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful to the needs of the Church.”
Each of us is blessed with particular gifts, as Paul’s Letter to the Romans teaches us.
“For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12: 4-8)
But we need each other—all members of the body of Christ—to use our own gifts for the work of the Church as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given to some benefit.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
That is why prayer communities are so critical. It is through the gifts of the body of Christ that great miracles are manifested. Luke’s description of the early Church clearly demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit working in community.
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” (Acts 2:42-43)
What does this mean to us Catholic Christians in the 21st century?
First, the sacramental life of the Mass and Eucharist in community is mandatory to receive the power and promises of Christ. Second, solid teaching is essential. So many Catholics live in partial, if not complete ignorance, of the power of the Holy Spirit. Finally, the faith of the community leads to boldness and boldness leads to releasing the Holy Spirit’s power and miracles in our lives.
The Holy Spirit’s power makes the impossible possible! And, that’s dynamite! Dynamite that will lead us to expect and experience miracles!