Be on Fire

Mass of the Holy Spirit
Miriam College
19 June 2008

The Mass of the Holy Spirit that opens the school-year is, to me, one of the most beautiful tradition of being in a Catholic school. It is a time for us to celebrate friendships; when we see our classmates again after a long summer, or even seeing our teachers again especially those whom we have some particular affection. It is a time to be grateful for the summer months of rest and relaxation; when we have gained back our health and we are raring to go. But the Mass of the Holy Spirit is much, much more than just these. It is said that we shall know what spirit we have by its fruits. If you have nurtured your friendships and it has enriched your life, you know it is from the same Spirit of Love. At the opening of the year, we invoke the Spirit because it is what gives us fire. It is what gives us passion. It is what gives us the gasoline we need to move with energy, inspiration and speed. When we pray to the Holy Spirit, we are saying that we shall quench our thirst for knowledge and truth, so that understanding our lives and our world, we shall live better lives. We shall be modern-day missionaries: we will, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, proclaim the good news to all the nations.

The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines said that the faith of Filipinos is not sufficiently missionary. Many of us think that the work of evangelization is the job of a select few. We do not realize that the Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate, to the work of God. Pope Paul VI said that “it is unthinkable that a person should believe the Word of God and submit oneself to the Kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in one’s turn” (EN 24). You see, our faith must be personally assimilated and interiorized by the believer, otherwise, they remain like foreign objects in our bodies and will fail to influence our decisions. What does this mean? It means we should see all aspects of our lives as living out our Christian faith.

Let me illustrate that. The test is enthusiasm. If you are a student who loves your course, gets passionate about it, almost like being consumed by fire, then, in faith terms, it is the Spirit of Fire. On the other hand, are we studying just to get it over with? Para matapos na? Do we come to school dragging your feet, having less enthusiasm than having to hang out with our barkada in coffee shops or seeing our crushes? Do we actually know what we want in our lives, and are our decisions moving towards the fulfillment of our dreams. If the disinterest in studies springs from having no goal in life, then, in faith terms, you are not responding to the invitation of the Spirit to go where your heart is. When one is disinterested and without energy, the person becomes like ice, cold and lethargic. Energy is fire. The color of the Spirit is red, the color of passion. The energy that would enable you to graduate life with honors.

To be missionary means to be witnesses. To be witness means to attest to the truth. To make everyone see in our lives that our faith is true. In other words, to show that having our particular faith is the most practical thing in our lives. Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ said, “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

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